_ Six of Maine’s legal aid providers are able to do their vital work each year thanks to the generous support of the legal community to the Campaign for Justice. With that support, the providers:
Each of the six providers supported by the Campaign for Justice handles specific kinds of cases or represents specific kinds of clients. Each of the organizations works closely with the others so that, together, they can provide a comprehensive, integrated network providing access to justice for as many Maine people with low incomes as possible in all sixteen counties.
Pine Tree Legal Assistance (founded 1967). The largest and oldest of the providers helps enforce state and federal civil laws related to basic needs and rights, such as access to housing, food, income, safety, education, and well-being. Pine Tree has also developed specialized statewide initiatives, including a migrant farmworker unit, Native American unit, tax clinic, employment law project, foreclosure prevention project, and Maine’s only children’s law project. Pine Tree’s website contains user-friendly explanations of laws and self-help tools such as interactive court forms, and Pine Tree manages three other websites with easy access to information related to the legal needs of children (www.kidslegal.org), veteran and military families (www.statesidelegal.org), and civil legal resources in Maine (www.helpmelaw.org).
Legal Services for the Elderly (founded 1974). Thousands of Maine seniors age 60 or older rely on LSE for representation, assistance, and information on a broad range of legal issues, including physical abuse, financial exploitation, nursing home eligibility, long-term care issues, consumer fraud, evictions, debt collections, powers of attorneys, and health coverage matters.
Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic (founded 1970). A program of the University of Maine School of Law, the Clinic provides an opportunity for third-year law students to provide legal assistance, under close faculty supervision, to Maine residents who have low incomes in a variety of civil, juvenile, administrative, immigration, and criminal matters, primarily in Cumberland, York, Androscoggin, and Sagadahoc counties.
The Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project (founded 1983). Coordination, recruitment, and support of volunteer attorneys are the focus of VLP so that each dollar of support is multiplied several times over in pro bono aid by the Maine legal community. Handling a variety of civil legal problems with information, advice, and partial or full representation, VLP’s dozens of volunteer attorneys amassed hundreds of hours of service in 2011.
The Maine Equal Justice Partners (founded 1996). MEJP assists Maine adults and children with low income (1) in the courts through class action lawsuits and other cases likely to have significant impact on their basic needs and fundamental rights, (2) before administrative agencies in rulemaking proceedings and on issues affecting the administration of public programs, and (3) in the legislature with regard to bills related to public programs. MEJP also conducts research and provides outreach and education opportunities to individuals with low income and social service type providers on legal and public policy issues that affect their daily lives.
Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project (founded 2000). The special issues that immigrants have faced in Amercia since its founding are the focus of ILAP. The complexity of immigration law, conflicting cultural assumptions, and language barriers result in situations that make poorer immigrants especially vulnerable. Assistance by ILAP staff and pro bono attorneys is provided in all sixteen Maine counties.
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This Month's Profile: