2021 Pro Bono Recipients
The Bankruptcy Self-Help Center in collaboration with Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County (NLSLA opens in a new window).
NLSLA has been on the front lines in the fight for justice since 1965. Each year, NLSLA provides free legal assistance to more than 150,000 individuals and families. NLSLA advocates specialize in areas of the law that disproportionately impact the poor, including affordable housing and eviction defense, access to public benefits, support for domestic violence survivors and their children, access to healthcare, worker and consumer rights, as well as employment and training.
The Bankruptcy Self-Help Center is an important collaboration between NLSLA and the United States Bankruptcy Court in the San Fernando Valley and has been in operation for more than a decade.
The Bankruptcy Self-Help Center was created to ensure that everyone – regardless of their ability to pay for a lawyer—could have meaningful access to the bankruptcy process. Since its opening, staff, and volunteers have worked closely with the court to help thousands of unrepresented debtors access the critical information and tools they need to file for bankruptcy and obtain a financial “fresh start.”For the first time in years, NLSLA is facing severe budget cuts from the city, state, and county, as well as from private funders. Financial support from the CBF will allow NLSLA to continue to fight to help people keep their homes, manage their debts, navigate the precarious public benefits system, and ensure people have access to the healthcare they need and deserve.
PLC is a non-profit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income individuals in Orange County. The Consumer Law unit specifically assists debtors and creditors in bankruptcy court. PLC offers a self-help clinic at the bankruptcy courthouse (during normal times and virtually now) that provides guidance and advice to self-represented individuals in bankruptcy court. PLC also provides representation to Chapter 7 debtors, both with in-house staff attorneys and through its volunteer attorneys. PLC litigates motions and adversary proceedings in bankruptcy court, both for debtors and creditors, depending on the issues of the case. In addition, PLC works on debt collection issues generally, and will seek out alternatives to bankruptcy when feasible for clients. Like many other bankruptcy attorneys, PLC is expecting an increase in need for assistance with bankruptcy for our low-income clients over the next couple of years and it anticipates needing to increase the bankruptcy-related services available in Orange County.
Pro Bono Program Background
In the years since the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 and the Great Recession, the number of debtors participating in bankruptcy cases without the benefit of legal counsel have increased. The California Bankruptcy Forum recognizes the significant impact that this increase has had on the bankruptcy courts and the administration of justice. The CBF reached a consensus that the organization and its members should assist various pro bono projects that support access to the bankruptcy courts in California. Its Pro Bono Project furthers the CBF’s purpose to “promote and enhance the value of the bankruptcy system and process in California” by increasing access for the indigent and assisting the courts by reducing limited court resources diverted for unrepresented bankruptcy filers and litigants.
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