Legal aid, Nevada County style: Community Legal places emphasis on collaboration
Supported by a broad base of organizations and individuals in the greater Nevada County area, Community Legal, Inc., will open its doors in August.
According to Nevada County CEO Rick Haffey’s office, the new nonprofit will serve, primarily, very low-income individuals, and will also provide a range of legal services open to people of all income levels.
The organization has received wide support from community leaders, including Nevada County Supervisor Hank Weston.
“Community Legal is the right organization coming to the rescue at the right time to provide a much-needed service to the residents of Nevada County,” Weston said in a statement released in a weekly memorandum from Haffey.
Weston said he has been interested in this project since 2014, when volunteers began providing free legal service in his district.
A group of attorneys and mediators began the idea of Community Legal back in 2013 with the intent of establishing an organization that makes legal services more accessible for low-income individuals.
Since 2013, the founders of Community Legal have been working diligently to form partnerships with nonprofits that serve the county’s lowest income residents.
Erin Noel, a local attorney who has served as the project organizer and who will staff the clinic when it opens, explains how the clinic serves the values and community of Nevada County.
“As a rural community where legal problems often stem from relationships and breakdowns in communication between people, we need legal information and education that helps people to solve problems without litigation. When parties in a dispute can get on the same page and work together, no problem is insurmountable.”
Community Legal will provide monthly clinics on specific legal topics, including landlord tenant law, family law, wills and trusts, MediCal issues, and other topics important to lower-income residents of Nevada County.
Community Legal staff and pro-bono attorneys will conduct the clinics. The clinics will provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions and learn basic information for free, or at a very low cost.
In addition, limited scope legal representation and legal mediation will be available to very low-income clients for free, and to others at low cost.
Community Legal’s President Paul Johnson, a former member of the Nevada County Bar Association, believes that “Legal help should not be intimidating. It should be accessible,” explaining that “Community Legal seeks to fill the gap in legal services not currently provided to low-income people in Nevada County.”
To make service more accessible, Community Legal will provide opportunities for one-on-one meetings with legal counsel at its main office in downtown Nevada City, across from the Superior Court, and at other locations including FREED, Nevada County WORKS!, in Truckee, and at the San Juan Ridge Family Resource Center.
Community Legal will open its Nevada City location at 214 Church St., Nevada City, the former location of the Searls Law Library, offering limited services beginning Aug. 11. Community Legal will celebrate a grand opening on Oct. 1.
A crowdfunding campaign is currently running at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/community-legal-legal-service-with-a-heart#/story. For more information on services provided, visit Community Legal’s website at http://www.communitylegal.net. or call 530-265-3425.
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