Pro Bono News
Legal Live Chat Available for Foreclosure Litigants
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
- New York Law Journal
Reprinted with permission from the December 15, 2015 issue of New York Law Journal. (c)  ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited.
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December 15, 2015
LawHelpNY.org, an online legal referral and information service for low- to moderate-income New Yorkers, is offering its LiveHelp chat service through the Office of Court Administration's CourtHelp website for pro se litigants seeking advice in foreclosure cases.
LawHelpNY, which has been in operation since 2001, offers assistance for visitors seeking legal aid referrals and know-your-rights information for a wide array of practice areas.
Michelle Born, coordinator for LiveHelp, said that foreclosure cases were chosen because of the disparity of representation—plaintiffs always have lawyers, she said, while the majority of defendants do not—and because of the "potentially devastating" impact that foreclosures can have for families.
CourtHelp, the OCA program that collaborates with the separate LawHelpNY, offers legal and procedural information in "plain language" for pro se litigants, said Rochelle Klempner, chief counsel to the court system's Access to Justice Program, and the site's foreclosure pages receive about 80,000 visitors each year. She said the live chat option would be helpful for people who might have challenges finding information on the Internet.
Born said LawHelpNY's work with CourtHelp on foreclosure assistance is a pilot program to determine if it would be feasible for LiveHelp operators to assist CourtHelp visitors with other practice areas.
LawHelpNY is a collaborative project of 10 legal aid service providers and the New York state and New York City bar associations. The initiative to link CourtHelp visitors with LiveHelp operators for assistance on foreclosure cases is funded by a grant awarded to the Legal Assistance of Western New York by the Legal Services Corporation.