Faith-Based Initiative Provides Free Legal Advice - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Faith-Based Initiative Provides Free Legal Advice

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by Emily Luxen

NASHVILLE, Tenn.- A new program in Middle Tennessee aims to connect people in need of legal advice with free assistance, through their place of worship.

The Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance is one of the first programs of its kind in the nation.  It was developed by the Access to Justice Commission to address needs seen at the local church level with possible legal resources that are nearby.

"It's very rewarding because it is one more way to help people in need," said Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark. "People who might fear going to court for help, or going to a high rise office, might feel more comfortable in their community."

The pilot project for the initiative started in January of 2013 with members of the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Church.   

"If we can get lawyers into the community and into places like churches that are already helping individuals, we think we can help even more people," said Justice Clark.

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services estimates there are approximately 1 million low-income Tennesseans in need of civil legal help. 

This program would help them get free advice on issues ranging from fighting eviction, filing for divorce or even fighting for custody of their children.  All the attorneys involved donate their time and services.

"Navigating the legal system can be confusing and intimidating," said Justice Clark.  "We would like to hope we can help."

Justice Clark said other churches of other denominations are expressing interest in the program, and the hope is it will continue to expand.


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