November 07, 2019

LAWV's Lawyer in the School Program

Legal Aid of West Virginia (LAWV) is excited that our “Lawyer in the School” program is of great interest to other groups across the country, with many seeking to replicate the model.

Recently, LAWV staff shared details of the successful model during a Legal Services Corporation Webinar on Pro Bono Innovations. Staff have also presented information on the model during national legal aid conferences for the American Bar Association and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. Other legal aid organizations from Maryland, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have reached out or visited our program to get more information about the service model.

The concept behind the program is very simple: volunteer attorneys are used to provide onsite legal help to families with children attending elementary school. The program seeks to stabilize families by providing help on issues like eviction, disrupted economic support, and lack of secure legal custody for children not living with biological parents. By targeting these types of problems, Lawyer in the School supports collaborative community efforts centered around schools to improve and promote attendance, educational attainment, health, and well-being.

And we are reaching families that may not ask for help otherwise. At the school where the program started, 90 percent of families who have come to the clinic asking for help told us they would not have sought out legal help had we not been available at the school!

In addition, there has been a sizable increase in private attorney volunteerism through participation in the Lawyer In the School program, and we hope that will one translate in to other areas of our pro bono assistance to low income clients.

For more information on the program, interested parties can call Melissa Lilly at 304-343-3013 ext. 2117.