The Capital District Women’s Bar Association Legal Project, Inc. (“The Legal Project”) is a private, not-for-profit agency that was founded by the Capital District Women’s Bar Association in 1995. Beginning as an off shoot of the CDWBA’s Pro Bono Committee, the Committee’s members, Meredith Savitt, Amy Schallop, Elizabeth Lott, Justine Spada, Rachel Kretser, and Camille Siano Enders, served as its first Board of Directors.
The Legal Project believes that all people, regardless of income, gender, disability, race, religion, age, sexual orientation or ethnicity should have access to legal services. This belief reflects a deep commitment to fairness and equal justice under the law. Based upon these beliefs, the mission of The Legal Project is to make the law more accessible to those in need; to increase the legal community’s involvement in pro bono work; and to serve as a resource on legal issues and pro bono. We feel a special commitment to women and others who may have difficulty in obtaining legal services.
The Legal Project is unique in that it addresses the civil legal needs of the working poor – those who “on paper” make too much money to qualify for programs for the indigent, but who do not earn enough to pay the fees of private attorneys.
The Legal Project addresses the need for non-criminal legal assistance by providing innovative, cost effective services that are collaborative in nature and that focus on well-defined, but unmet needs in the community. The Legal Project has over 200 attorneys who participate in its programs and serves approximately 1,500 clients annually. Following is a brief description of The Legal Project’s creative approaches to meeting the need for legal assistance:
- The Domestic Violence Legal Connection provides pro bono and reduced fee civil legal representation and free legal consultations at domestic violence shelters;
- Affordable Housing Attorney Assistance (AHAA) provides free and low cost legal representation to low income home purchasers.
Legal Advice and Information:
- The Legal Clinic Program offers free, private, and confidential consultations with experienced attorneys at local community agencies;
- Small Business Legal Network provides free legal consultations with attorneys and educational programs on small business legal issues for those interested in starting or expanding a small business.
- Legally Speaking Workshops offer free, custom designed education programs to community groups and organizations about any legal topic.
- Legal Project Helpline brings legal information to listeners of WAMC Northeast Public Radio
- Ask The Legal Project column answers legal questions on the WNYT (Channel 13) website.
- Professional Training of local attorneys in exchange for pro bono work increases the availability of legal assistance with domestic violence and affordable housing.