“Lawyers in the Library” to Offer Virtual Legal Aid for Pandemic, Flood, and More

Do you need to know more about debt collection law, bankruptcy, or landlord/tenant law since COVID-19 disrupted the economy? How can you make sure your wishes for your health care are known if you are disabled while in the hospital? What do you need to know about public benefits if your job is furloughed or eliminated?

The health challenges and economic strains caused by COVID-19 mean that many people in our community are facing legal situations never encountered before. In addition, some of our area residents are still facing financial fallout from the historic Arkansas River flooding of summer 2019. Between the two disasters, many of our neighbors and friends may feel adrift in the complicated processes of unemployment, housing law, bankruptcy, or healthcare law.

Learn online live with legal experts

To help, the Central Arkansas Library System has partnered with the Center for Arkansas Legal Services to bring four Zoom online programs to our library users, beginning on June 1. These presentations are conducted by legal experts and funded by grants from the Legal Services Corporation to supply disaster-related legal aid for both the pandemic and the 2019 flood.

Each program will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with registration required in advance so participants can receive a Zoom password. You can register by clicking each program link.

 June 1            General Program

Get an overview and introduction to all topics to be presented in the series, including consumer law, housing law, record sealing, public benefits, family law, and advance directives.

June 15           Consumer Law/Housing Law

Understand consumer issues including bankruptcy, foreclosure, debt collection, contracts, rent-to-own purchases and consumer scams. Legal staff will also present on Arkansas landlord/tenant issues.

 June 29          Public Benefits/Record Sealing

Explore public benefits including unemployment insurance, SNAP benefits, Medicare/Medicaid, stimulus checks, Social Security Insurance/Social Security Disability Insurance, and housing assistance such as Section 8 Vouchers, Rural Development Program, or Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program. Legal staff will also present the positive outcomes of sealing a criminal record, including what records are sealable, how a record is sealed, and assistance that is available to navigate the process.

July 13            Family Law/ Advance Directives

Learn more about divorce, child custody, child support, adoption, and guardianships. Legal staff will also give a presentation on wills, living wills and power of attorneys.

Partnership with Center for Arkansas Legal Services

Executive Director Jean Turner Carter of the Center for Arkansas Legal Services sees the critical need for free legal aid to the community, particularly at this time with one disaster still recent and another in progress.

“Low-income families and communities suffer disproportionately from disasters,” Carter said. “Access to legal remedies is vital to alleviating the impacts of disaster, but any number of barriers can make that a challenge, especially in the current circumstances. Arkansas has suffered from one disaster to another these past two years—first with the historic flooding, and now the pandemic. As such, when it comes to furthering the legal aid mission, it’s a natural decision to partner with libraries since they have strong community ties and resources available to all regardless of income level. While we may not be able to meet in person, the Center for Arkansas Legal Services is still providing essential services for Arkansans and ready to work with the library system to expand our reach.”

Nate Coulter, Executive Director for the library system, is delighted to be able to partner with the Center for Arkansas Legal Services once again. “Our library system is uniquely equipped to host crucial programming so it reaches as many people as possible in our service area,” Coulter said. “We can host free legal aid in our buildings, as we did last fall, or transition to host online for this series. More people can get the help they need when we bring these dedicated legal experts into the library’s trusted physical and virtual gathering spaces.”

To register, click on each program title above.

For any questions about the program content, please contact Sarah Logan at slogan@arkansaslegalservices.org.

For questions about registration, please contact Mark Christ at mchrist@cals.org


feature by Rosslyn Elliott