Free legal aid available for those in need
April 22, 2014
Legal advice can be costly, but there are free options in Park City for those who can’t afford it.
The Park City Bar Association conducts its "Tuesday Night Bar" sessions on the first Tuesday of every month and Utah Legal Services conducts clinics on the first and third Thursdays of each month. No appointments are required as walk-ins are welcome.
Tuesday Night Bars
The Tuesday Night Bar clinics generally involve advising on family law, landlord-tenant disputes, employer-employee disputes, small claims actions and disputes with neighbors, according to attorney Gail Laser, who runs the Tuesday Night Bars on behalf of the Park City Bar Association. Laser says her specialties are family and criminal law.
Are there any kinds of legal issues people should not go to the Tuesday Night Bars for?
"Obviously, it’s free, so anything that takes a ton of time," Laser told The Park Record. "We can’t spend a ton of time with each person so we can kind of just give guidance on how to start."
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"If it does look like it’s going to be more complicated, we recommend they get a lawyer. We don’t recommend ourselves, of course," Laser continued. "If it’s a complicated labor issue, I have lawyers that I know and that I will sometimes refer to them, because I know they’re good people and they’ll answer questions. I have some good people that do construction law, labor law, social security disability attorney "
The Tuesday Night Bars have been held at the Park City Library at 6 p.m. and the next session, on May 6, will be held there, but due to the impending library renovations, the sessions will move to Miners Hospital starting in June.
Utah Legal Services clinics
The free Thursday-night advice clinics run by Utah Legal Services typically involve issues similar to the Tuesday Night Bars – family law, landlord-tenant questions, consumer law issues.
"Pretty much everything," says attorney Rebecca Mader, who has been running the Park City clinics since she began working for the organization last August.
The one exception is criminal law matters. "We can’t do anything criminal with the exception of expungements (clearing a person’s record) – we can advise on expungements but nothing else."
Utah Legal Services has specialized units it can refer people to for difficult, but common, issues. For instance, if someone has a complicated immigration issue, "we would just refer them to a different clinic if that came up," Mader says.
What sort of counsel is provided at the clinics? Can people ask for help filling out different kinds of paperwork or only seeking more general advice?
What sort of counsel do you provide? Help with filings or more general advice?
"Both, Mader says. "We do help people will out with paperwork if they need help with that. Oftentimes, primarily with family law, particularly divorces, protective orders, things like that, people want help just filling out the actual paperwork they submit to the court and that’s something we can do."
The clinic is also available for advice on an ongoing basis.
"People can certainly come back, we don’t have any kind of restriction on how many times you can come. So oftentimes if somebody is going through a long divorce or something, they’ll just keep coming back and keep asking questions as things move forward and that’s certainly no problem for us whatsoever," Mader says.
Other than income-level, are there any other restrictions on how can seek counsel?
"The only qualifications really are that the clients have to be either a citizen or a permanent legal resident of the United States, unless it’s a case involving domestic violence, like a protective order, and then we don’t care about residency [or income] at all," she says.