On Saturday, March 17, the Diversity Committee of the Family Law Section of the State Bar, Atlanta Legal Aid Society (ALAS), and Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation (AVLF) hosted a “pop-up” clinic at Thomasville Heights Elementary. The idea was born out of the Diversity Committee’s initiative to bring brief, free legal advice to the community in the community. Under the leadership of attorney ivory t. brown and Michelle Jordan, Managing Attorney for ALAS’s Domestic Relations Unit, the idea for the clinic began to take form.
AVLF Family Law Program Staff Attorney, Nilufar Abdi-Tabari, teamed up with ALAS and the Diversity Committee, suggesting the clinic take place at Thomasville Heights Elementary School, which is an AVLF “Standing with Our Neighbors” site. AVLF launched its Standing with Our Neighbors program back in 2015 with the goal of taking on poor education outcomes in schools with high student turnover by placing an attorney and community advocate in the school to address the housing needs of the students and their families. These needs include poor conditions such as mold or pest problems, repair issues, and wrongful evictions. A key tenet of this program is bringing services out into the community. This made for a perfect marriage with the desire to do a pop-up family law clinic in the community.
On the third Saturday of each month, Standing with Our Neighbors hosts “Turn Up & Turn Out” at Thomasville Heights Elementary School. Turn Up & Turn Out features a know-your-rights clinic, games and activities for the children, lunch, and giveaways for the families in the community. Ms. Abdi-Tabari worked to coordinate the pop-up clinic with Turn Up & Turn Out to capitalize on the community presence at this event and create a space for community members seeking family law advice to get answers to their legal questions.
So, on March 17, the family law attorneys joined in the fun. Fourteen attorneys and two non-attorney volunteers came out to spend a few hours of their Saturday meeting with members of the community to discuss family law issues and provide advice and resources. The event was a success and more pop-up clinics are now in the works to keep bringing services to the community and to meet our neighbors where they are.
Keep an eye out for what this powerhouse coalition of the Diversity Committee, AVLF, and ALAS will do next!