Christian Legal Aid (“CLA”) Clinics
Sponsored by Local Churches or Christian Organizations
Facilities furnished by Sponsor:
Interview facilities should ordinarily be provided on a temporary basis for a few hours a week for confidential interviews between lawyers, law students or paralegals and clients or those seeking assistance. The office should be sound proof to ensure confidentiality of the discussions. These facilities should include a desk and chair for the interviewer, a comfortable chair for the person being interviewed, a telephone, residential and business telephone books, a desk computer, any other necessary office needs of the interviewer and a locked file cabinet to contain case records, desk manuals or desk resource books, forms, yellow pads and any other files or paperwork required by the interviewers. Access and keys to the file cabinet should be limited to the director of the local clinic or a trusted assistant. The cabinet and any file should be opened only at the request of a lawyer who has been authorized by the CLA governing body coordinator. Easy access should be available somewhere on the premises for a copy machine or a fax machine, if possible.
Role and Promotion of the Local Sponsor:
The local sponsor should perform the roles and functions described in the CLS guidelines for Christian legal aid which generally include sharing responsibility with the Christian Legal Community for promoting, recruiting, encouraging and retaining volunteer lawyers, law students and paralegals, appointing a coordinator to set up and operate the clinic for the sponsor, and to work closely with the coordinator for the governing body in all aspects of the clinic, scheduling appointments for those requesting interviews, conducting such screening of potential clients or cases as is agreed upon between the local sponsor and the governing body and its coordinator and assisting with or providing certain interview follow ups for referral to social, counseling or Church services.
Screening by Sponsor:
In most cases, the governing body will request some type of screening of persons and cases by the local sponsor scheduling them for interviews so as to eliminate ineligible persons or matters, those presenting obvious non legal questions, those beyond the scope of the services to be rendered by the Christian Legal Community and other problem situations. The screening should be done by some qualified person on the staff under the guidance and, if necessary, training by the Christian Legal Community.
The coordinator should be a senior staff person with knowledge of the community and its facilities for assisting the poor and with ability to set up, conduct and supervise the participation by the local sponsor, and who is able to communicate effectively with and relate to the participating members of the Christian Legal Community, the governing body coordinator and the participating lawyers, law students and paralegals. No previous legal training or experience is required.
Post Interview Follow-ups:
The Sponsor should ordinarily assist with or provide post interview assistance for “clients” for needed non-financial, non-legal, social, counseling or church services as may be available to the Sponsor either as a part of the Sponsor’s clinic or as referrals to other agencies, churches or organizations. This would include necessary assistance for food, housing and other physical needs, physical and mental health services, spiritual counseling and Bible study, personal growth and church services or referrals for those wanting such help.