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June 21, 2018

Lawyer in the School

Legal Aid of West Virginia’s Lawyer in the School program works to stabilize the lives of children enrolled at Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School in the West Side Neighborhood of Charleston, West Virginia by providing on-site family legal assistance on issues like eviction, poor housing conditions, disrupted economic support, and lack of secure legal custody for children not living with biological parents.  Only Mary C. Snow school families are eligible to receive help from the program onsite at the school.  By helping with these kinds of problems, the program seeks to work collaboratively in a school setting to create better conditions for improved school attendance, educational attainment, health, and well-being for children and families. 

Lawyer in the School staff and a pool of trained volunteer lawyers meet school families at the school every Monday and Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. while school is in session. The clinics provide families the opportunity to talk to a lawyer about their problem for free, so they can receive information, advice or get help filling out forms.  Since the clinic started in January 2017, over 135 families have been provided with help through Lawyer in the School.

Over 70 volunteer attorneys have assisted with the program, coming from many Charleston area law firms, including Steptoe and Johnson, Jackson Kelly, Bailey Glasser, Bowles Rice, Babst Calland, Frost Brown Todd, and more. Lawyer in the School has received high praise and positive feedback from its participatory attorneys as a meaningful pro bono program.  “The opportunity to participate in this effort in a ‘hands-on’ manner, in the community, interacting with clients… was an exceptional and meaningful opportunity. Being able to provide assistance where it is truly needed was beneficial to both those served by the clinic and our firm. We look forward to our continuing involvement with this worthy and needed endeavor.”-Michael Victorson, General Counsel to Jackson Kelly.

Lawyer in the School was initially funded by a 2 year grant from the Legal Services Corporation Pro Bono Innovation Fund.  LAWV has recently been awarded funding from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation and The Kanawha Valley Council on Philanthropy to expand and enhance Lawyer in the School services.