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Legal aid effort targets evictions

Virginia lawyers are being recruited to help counsel tenants facing eviction. Free CLE credits are part of the lure.

The Virginia Poverty Law Center and the Virginia State Bar Access to Legal Services Committee have invited lawyers to attend an Aug. 21 free CLE webinar to prepare staff for the Eviction Legal Helpline (1-833-NoEvict).

Lawyers will learn the key steps in the residential eviction process, the most frequently available defenses to eviction and which defenses can be successfully asserted pro se, according to course information. Participants earn 1.5 hours of CLE credit.

The webinar takes place Aug. 21 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

VPLC and the VSB hope to get newly recruited volunteers involved in the day-to-day operations of the Helpline by the end of August and early September. Attorney volunteers will call back tenants back with basic advice on their situations and will flag cases for follow-up by VPLC and legal aid programs.

The eviction Helpline is a free phone-based service providing legal information, referrals, and brief advice to tenants facing potential eviction. It has already been helping tenants avoid losing their housing, organizers say. The program is looking for a larger corps of volunteers to meet more of the need throughout the state.

CLE participants will be asked to commit to one three-hour shift every few months, which can be done from the volunteer’s office or home. Volunteers will complete Helpline cases in a single conversation and no conflicts check will be required to assist tenant callers. VPLC support will be just a phone call away, and any cases that are a bit more complicated will receive further assistance or referral from VPLC staff, the organization said.