Skagit County Bar Association Launches Skagit Legal Aid
A new non-profit providing free legal services has been established by the Skagit County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyer Program.
The new non-profit is called Skagit Legal Aid and offers free legal assistance to eligible low-income Skagit County residents. The program is staffed by an Attorney/Program Manager and a Legal Assistant. Annually, Skagit County attorneys donate about 1,500 volunteer hours to nearly 500 people for more than $260,000 worth of legal services. Attorneys provide services in areas including eviction defense and other landlord-tenant disputes, family law issues, wills and powers of attorney, post-conviction support, and limited immigration assistance with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications and renewals. Skagit Legal Aid hosts alternating biweekly legal clinics at the CCS Farmworker Center and East County Resource Center in Concrete in addition to regular virtual workshops. Staff also speak Spanish and can assist Spanish speaking clients. Translation services are available for other languages.
To date in 2021, the program has provided services to at least 134 clients.
Although Skagit Legal Aid officially opens its doors on June 1, 2021, its services have been provided to Skagit County for 35 years under the name of Skagit Volunteer Lawyer Program. Since 1986, the Skagit County Bar Association has partnered with Community Action to operate the free legal services program.
For over thirty-five years, the Skagit County Bar Association and Community Action worked together to provide program support. Community Action provided the programs integration with its anti-poverty mission and the bar association provided legal expertise and guidance of the program and maintained the program’s connection to the local legal community.
“We are very excited about this next step and the future of Skagit Legal Aid. We are looking forward to working with our many community partners in the effort to improve access to the courts and access to justice in Skagit County in a racially equitable manner,” said, Gail Smith, founder of the Volunteer Law Program.
One of the clients who has been served by the program, sent a message to the volunteering attorney, stating,
“Thank you so much! I do realize how much time and effort you're putting into this and I seriously can't convey to you just how much I appreciate your help. The last couple years have been an absolute nightmare not just for me but for my kids, my elderly parents, really my entire family. The stress has been so bad it's caused me to have some long term physical health issues. I finally feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel. So thank you, again, for bringing some peace of mind to me and a whole lot of other people that care about and depend on me.”
Skagit Legal Aid will be funded by grants and donations from the public. It will continue to work with and support its many wonderful community partners.
For legal assistance, call CLEAR at 1-888-201-1014, Monday through Friday, from 9:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. CLEAR is staffed by attorneys and paralegals who screen clients for eligibility and provides them with brief advice and services. If further assistance is needed, CLEAR staff will refer the client to Skagit Legal Aid. For more information, please visit the NW Justice Project website.
To learn more about the Skagit Volunteer Lawyer Program, or make a donation to the program, contact Andy Dugan at email@example.com.