Client intake hours just started. Four paralegals and two law school interns are already speaking to anxious callers facing a civil legal issue. Paralegal Monica Fulwood speaks to a caller who has received threatening phone calls from a debt collector. “Can you help me? I don’t know where else to go for help and I’m really scared.”
Pro Bono Manager Michelle Swift, who reviews every pro bono case, glances up from the stack of file folders on her desk and sees the growing number of callers waiting on hold. It’s going to be a very busy day. She shifts gears and jumps into the client intake call queue so callers don’t have to wait for help.
Minutes before clientintake hours end, paralegal Makeisha Gibson gets an urgent call. The caller and her children have a protective order against her abusive husband. She’s ready to leave and needs a lawyer to help her with the divorce and custody arrangements. As Makeisha continues to gather information, the caller mentions that the marital home is about to go into foreclosure. Realizing she has multiple complex needs, Makeisha alerts consumer and foreclosure staff attorney Ellyn Riedl, who immediately gets to work to see if the caller’s house can be saved.
A VICTORY! Paralegal LaKisha Overton places a particularly time-sensitive case with a volunteer lawyer. An elderly man’s Medicaid home health benefits were inexplicably denied, despite his worsening health. The volunteer will represent him at an administrative hearing to appeal the denial of benefits. He chokes up with gratitude when LaKisha calls to tell him.
Paralegal Tara Miles is preparing for tomorrow’s self-help bankruptcy class. She’s confirming attendance and preparing bankruptcy petition forms for individuals who need a fresh financial start. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will conduct the class and teach the individuals how to represent themselves at their bankruptcy hearing.
Every paralegal is busy reviewing dozens of case files. Some have missing information. Some are complete and need to be placed with a volunteer lawyer. They’ll work the phones until 5 p.m., calling clients and volunteers, until it’s time to go home and start all over tomorrow.