Have you ever thought about what the words “Justice For All” mean to those who cannot afford a lawyer to help with basic needs, such as preventing an unlawful eviction, obtaining a divorce or child support, defending against a garnishment, filing bankruptcy, or obtaining benefits needed to survive? More than 940,000 Alabamians live in poverty, yet the State of Alabama is 51st in government funding for civil access to justice (below all 50 states and Puerto Rico). A recent study shows that 48% of low-income households in Alabama experienced one or more legal issues in recent years, yet only about 16% of these problems were resolved. As a result, those in poverty with a basic legal need often have to choose between two terrible options: navigate the legal system with no assistance, or abandon legal rights altogether. Countless citizens forfeit their basic rights because they do not know how to effectively protect themselves.
The MCVLP has helped bridge this access to justice gap and provides much needed service to the under-resourced individuals in our community. The MCVLP provides civil legal aid to clients who are residents of Madison County, or who have cases pending in Madison County, and generally have a household income at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. The MCVLP consists of over 500 volunteer attorneys in the Madison County area who give freely of their own time, for which they would otherwise be compensated, to help those in need. Last year alone, Madison County lawyers gave over 2,500 hours of free legal assistance to those in need.
Several clients, volunteer attorneys, and civic and judicial leadership recently expressed what the MCVLP has meant to them and our community. Watch the video below to see what they had to say