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Virginia Legal Aid Society

Virginia Legal Aid Society Creates New Project to Combat Domestic Violence

Virginia Legal Aid Society has created a six-person Domestic Violence Project dedicated to meeting the civil legal needs of domestic violence victims in Central, Southside and Western Tidewater Virginia.

“In our last strategic planning process in 2017, we learned that domestic violence is especially common in the 26 cities and counties that we serve in Central, Southside and Western Tidewater, Virginia. These cities and counties issue 47% more protective orders than the statewide average by population” said David Neumeyer, Executive Director of VLAS. “Victims particularly need an attorney when asking for a permanent protective order because abusers who control the family money often show up with an attorney, and victims cannot afford one. We have been working for the last eighteen months to create this unit, and are excited that we now have the team in place.

”VLAS expects to help more than 1,300 domestic violence victims and their family members with the help of a two-year grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. VLAS staff will help many of these victims obtain permanent protective orders against their abusers. The project also covers a full range of civil legal services, as long as the client is a domestic violence victim. Victims who need help, for example, obtaining a divorce, defending themselves in an eviction proceeding, receiving government benefits for which they are entitled or many other services can receive help.

VLAS’s Domestic Violence Project team consists of six positions, four of which are new. They include four attorneys, one in each of VLAS’s four offices; a Community Outreach Coordinator; and a paralegal. The attorneys and their offices are:

  • Pamela DeCamp, Managing Attorney for the Domestic Violence Project and also Managing Attorney of VLAS’s Farmville office.
  • Lindsay Horne (Lynchburg)
  • Dana Sanford (Suffolk)
  • Michael Simmons (Danville)

Mary Buchanan is the project’s Community Outreach Coordinator. In that role, she will work with VLAS’s partners to encourage client referrals and also help educate the public directly through public presentations and informational brochures and videos. Susan Crawley, the new paralegal, will work with domestic violence victims and assist project attorneys.

“We are grateful to DCJS for its confidence in this effort. The grant will allow VLAS to play a pivotal role in helping hundreds of victims receive protection from their abusers and work toward rebuilding their lives” said DeCamp said.

Over the past year, VLAS signed agreements with 18 agencies that work with domestic violence victims. VLAS will accept client referrals from these partners, build relationships with new partners, and help domestic violence clients who apply directly through VLAS’s LawLine (1-866-LEGLAID, or 1-866-534-5243).

Virginia About to Restore Driving Privileges to 627,000

Drivers Licenses can no Longer be Suspended to Force Court Payments

LYNCHBURG, Va., June 28, 2019 – Starting Monday, courts in Virginia will be prohibited from suspending driving privileges solely for failure to pay court fines and costs.

The General Assembly passed and Governor Northam signed a bill this year to end the practice of suspending driver’s licenses because of unpaid court fines and costs. The budget amendment reinstates, as of Monday, driving privileges for the more than 627,000 Virginians who currently have their licenses suspended.

Drivers who believe their licenses can be reinstated should make sure the state Department of Motor Vehicles knows their correct address so the DMV can contact them and let them know the steps to be taken. Drivers can provide their correct address by calling a local DMV office or visiting dmvNOW.com. Also:

  • If a driver’s license is current, the holder can resume driving on Monday without any further steps.
  • If a driver no longer has a physical license, the driver must replace it. If the license has expired, the driver must renew it. 
  • If the driver has surrendered his or her license to the DMV, he or she must complete the full application.

VLAS reminds everyone that the new law does not eliminate the requirement to pay court costs, fines and fees. It only eliminates suspending a driver’s license as a potential punishment. For more information, drivers should visit vlas.org and dmv.virginia.gov/drivers/#fines_costs.asp

Attorneys Launch Group to Boost Free Legal Services to Low Income Clients

SUFFOLK, Va., Feb. 20, 2018  – Virginia Legal Aid Society is pleased to announce the creation of the Suffolk Pro Bono Task Force, a  group of influential and successful attorneys who are recruiting their colleagues to provide volunteer, free legal help to VLAS clients.

The attorney members of the task force are calling, writing and visiting with other attorneys in the area to encourage them to take on pro bono cases for VLAS clients. In addition to this work, the attorney members of the task force all accept representation of VLAS clients on a pro bono basis. 

Private attorneys who agree to work pro bono allow VLAS to help many additional low income clients who otherwise would not be able to hire an attorney for representation in their civil legal case. VLAS staff attorneys in Danville, Lynchburg, Farmville and Suffolk close about 3,000 cases each year; pro bono attorneys close an additional 150 or so cases for VLAS clients. VLAS seeks to greatly increase the numbers of attorneys providing pro bono representation to its clients, and the Suffolk Task Force members are an invaluable asset in this endeavor.

The Suffolk Task Force members are:

  • Nicole Harrell
  • Jeanette Ojeda
  • Andrew Page
  • Richard Railey
  • Whitney Saunders
  • Martin Speroni
  • Daniel Vinson
     

For More Information Contact: Kristine Smith, Pro Bono Director (434) 846-1326, ext. 413

Virginia Legal Aid Society is a nonprofit law firm that provides legal information, advice and representation in civil cases to underprivileged individuals and families. Since 1977, VLAS has been the only institutional provider of such services in Central, Southside, and Western Tidewater Virginia. VLAS attorneys and paralegals use legal skills to solve problems in housing, access to health care, income and public benefits, family issues, consumer lending and assets. Our mission is to resolve serious legal problems of vulnerable people, promote economic and family stability, reduce poverty through effective legal assistance, and to champion equal justice. For more information on our services, to get involved, or to make a donation, please visit us at www.vlas.org and follow us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/VaLegalAidSociety, and Twitter @VA_LegalAid

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