Thirty-five years ago, prominent leaders in Atlanta’s legal community created the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation to help working and poor families who could not afford to hire lawyers to meet their most basic needs.
AVLF taps the enthusiasm and commitment of volunteer legal professionals to provide free legal services to low-income families where no other resources exist.
AVLF accomplishes its mission through several volunteer programs, listed below. Through these programs, AVLF’s staff and volunteers promote freedom from violence and advocate for the economic and housing security of low-income Atlantans. Each AVLF program is headed by an expert attorney who recruits, manages, and trains volunteers from all over Atlanta; directly represents clients; develops partnerships with legal and related organizations; supervises paralegals and law students; and reaches out to the client community through education and workshops. In addition to the staff attorney, each program has a paralegal to interview and assist the thousands of potential clients who seek our services every year.
For forty years, the Saturday Lawyer Program has provided low-income Atlantans with access to volunteer attorneys, and volunteer attorneys with a chance to do meaningful pro bono work. Those opportunities continue, and we are constantly improving the program and volunteer supports to enhance the experience for all involved.
Legal assistance is an important step in ensuring the safety of domestic violence survivors and their children and helping them reclaim control of their lives. For many domestic violence survivors, the need for legal representation is particularly acute because many abusers continue to use their abuse tactics in the very courtrooms where survivors go to seek relief.
AVLF’s Eviction Defense Program, managed in partnership with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and currently sponsored by the law firms of Troutman Sanders, King & Spalding, Seyfarth Shaw, and Baker Donelson, has been leveling the playing field for low-income tenants in eviction court for over a decade by providing volunteer attorneys to eligible clients with meritorious defenses or counterclaims.
AVLF has partnered with the Creditors Rights Section of the State Bar of Georgia to establish the Dollars for Judgments Program, a judgment collection program to help AVLF’s and Atlanta Legal Aid’s low-income clients be made whole in ways never before been available to them. By providing expert collection attorneys to collect on judgments obtained through our programs, this project is, we believe, unique – a first of its kind in the nation – and has the possibility of promoting real justice for low-income individual judgment creditors who cannot afford legal collection assistance from a lawyer.
Frequently, the Superior Court of Fulton County seeks the assistance of a Guardian ad Litem in high conflict custody cases to advocate for the best interest of the children involved. When the family involved cannot afford a Guardian, the Court will appoint a Guardian who is supervised and supported by AVLF.
AVLF has partnered with the Bankruptcy Section of the Atlanta Bar Association to launch this innovative project. LICAP provides low-income judgment creditors and claimants with free legal assistance in bankruptcy cases when the defendant/debtor runs to bankruptcy court to evade justice. These creditor-clients are current AVLF clients who are pursuing or have obtained judgments against employers and landlords through the Saturday Lawyer and Dollars for Judgments Programs.
The Probate Information Center is a project of Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, Atlanta Legal Aid Society, the Fulton County Probate Court, and the Estate Planning & Probate Section of the Atlanta Bar Association.