Eastside Legal Assistance Program Programs
ELAP operates eight advice and consultation clinics for low-income residents of East and Northeast King County. Four clinics take general civil non-family law issues and four are specialty clinics: family law and domestic violence issues; immigration issues; and multi-lingual, which handle all civil issues, for those who speak Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian. We also offer a forms/packet checklist for clinic attorneys to use so that appropriate materials from Washington Law Help can be copied and mailed to clinic clients, providing them with additional assistance/information.
ELAP provides several workshops. The Self-Help Dissolution Workshop provides procedural information for clients who represent themselves in their divorce. ELAP staff can prepare the dissolution paperwork. Clients can call the staff with questions as they go through the process. The workshop class is free, but ELAP requests a sliding scale fee to prepare the paperwork. ELAP provides credit clearing workshops to women living in a long term shelter for the homeless. In our Wills Project, volunteer attorneys provide wills, durable powers of attorney and directives to physicians.
ELAP provides full legal presentation in a limited number of cases primarily through its panel of volunteer attorneys. In addition, ELAP’s staff attorney provides assistance to domestic violence survivors (which may include full representation). Family law cases, particularly with domestic violence issues and/or children at risk, receive the highest priority for full representation. Other legal issues deal with consumer/bankruptcy concerns, immigration, wills, housing problems and employment issues.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
A team of volunteer attorneys assisted a domestic violence survivor after she and her five children escaped from being held captive by her abusive husband in two small truck campers in the desert in the middle of the summer. She feared getting help because there was a felony criminal warrant to extradite her to California for bad checks she wrote when she attempted to flee her abusive husband several years earlier. The team of attorneys quashed the extradition warrant, secured a domestic protection order, filed for dissolution and stabilized her situation.
In these challenging economic times, we are unable to meet the expanding need for legal services of low- and moderate- income people and victims of domestic violence. A critical need is general operating support so that we can maintain the level of legal services we currently provide and also expand the services by recruiting, training and supervising more volunteer attorney, expanding the number of legal clinics we offer, especially at locations such as domestic violence shelters, and adding another part-time staff attorney.