Welcome to the DeKalb Volunteer Lawyers Foundation
We are a non profit Foundation that serves the civil legal needs of low income residents of DeKalb County, Georgia. If you are in need of legal assistance, then we encourage you to contact us. If you are an attorney, we need your help! The Foundation is dedicated to providing quality representation to eligible clients.
DVLF Special Projects
In addition to its normal operations, the Foundation is involved in the operation of several special projects:
Temporary Protective Order Project
In 2004, the Foundation conducted a pilot TPO Project to determine if assisting victims of domestic violence on short notice would be feasible. Beginning in March, 2004, the Magistrate Court of DeKalb County under the leadership of the Honorable Winston Bethel, began handling most of the stalking and family violence cases for eight of the Superior Court Judges. The magistrate judges meet with petitioners and issue the ex parte orders. The cases are then set down for a second hearing on Tuesday or Wednesday of each week before a Magistrate Court Judge who is sitting by designation for the Superior Court to whom the case is assigned.
Beginning in January, 2005, the Foundation began a project using six carefully selected attorneys to cover the calendar calls and represent petitioners if the respondent was represented by counsel. Project attorneys meet briefly with the client and then either negotiate a consent order or conduct a hearing. The goal of the project is to level the playing field for victims of domestic violence. Often, the abuser has financial control of the family unit and is more able to hire representation. The attorneys in this project are paid a nominal fee, by the hour, for their time both in court and out of court. The project has been of great benefit to the Court and the citizens of DeKalb County who have been affected by domestic violence.
Guardian Ad Litem Project
After more than 22 years in operation, it is clear that the Guardian Ad Litem Project provides a valuable service to the DeKalb County community. Whenever requested by a superior court judge in DeKalb County, DVLF finds an attorney to serve as Guardian Ad Litem and represent the interest of the child or children in contested custody or visitation cases. Contested custody cases are, without a doubt, one of the toughest kinds of cases that a lawyer can handle whether as an adversary or a guardian. The dedicated volunteers who serve this project often spend over 100 hours working on these complicated cases interviewing family members, witnesses, school teachers, therapists, and most importantly, the children. The Foundation not only places the cases with volunteer guardians, but provides training for the volunteers. Every few years, the Foundation offers a training session as part of our Continuing Legal Education seminars. All requests for the placement of a Guardian Ad Litem must come from a superior court judge.
Probate Information Center
One of the Foundation's newest project is the Probate Information Center (PIC) which is a joint project of the Foundation, the DeKalb County Probate Court, the DeKalb Bar Association, and, the Estate Planning & Probate Section of the Atlanta Bar Association. The Probate Information Center assists individuals who meet eligibility requirements by using volunteer attorneys to provide free 45 minute consultations regarding an uncontested probate of the estate of a person who died while a resident of DeKalb County. This service is only available to individuals who do not currently have an attorney representing them. Individuals seeking advice must make an appointment.
Debt Collection Consumer Education Clinic
The Debt Collection Consumer Education Clinic began in February 2012 and has been extremely successful. The clinic is staffed by volunteer consumer law attorneys who start by giving the group of attendees a brief explanation of rights, procedures and untruths when they have been sued on a debt. Then the attorneys meet, one on one, for about fifteen minutes and give individual advice on how to answer and what to expect. Several of the volunteers continue to represent some of the clients on a pro bono basis. Volunteer attorneys, Chris Armor, Griffin Bell, III and Daniel DeWoskin have spearheaded the effort and coordinate the volunteers, flyers, and schedule.
If you have questions or wish to participate in or volunteer for any of these projects please contact DVLF.