The eviction process is very fast, and it can be stressful and intimidating for someone who is at risk of losing their home and does not understand the law. Frequently, the landlord has a lawyer. Almost always, the tenant does not. 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 changing this imbalance for over a decade by providing volunteer attorneys to eligible clients with meritorious defenses or counterclaims.
Who Can Participate?
In addition to being licensed to practice law in Georgia, this program requires volunteers to have either prior direct experience with the dispossessory court or have completed our specialized training on the law and process. AVLF will provide such training on request when a sufficient number of attorneys at a law firm are interested in volunteering with this program, as has been done with our current sponsoring firms. At least once a year, we also conduct refresher trainings at the sponsoring law firms, which interested attorneys in the community may be invited to attend.
As a volunteer attorney, you – or your sponsoring firm – will periodically receive a request for assistance at a dispossessory hearing occurring anywhere between two weeks to four days away. If you are available and have no conflicts, you will quickly receive a referral package that contains all related paperwork (the dispossessory filing, client’s Answer, leases, receipts, etc.), a detailed account of the facts and recommended legal strategy complete with case law and practice pointers, sample motions where applicable and an expert contact at AVLF for further support. You will be expected to contact your client, arrange any required pre-hearing meetings, prepare your case – with AVLF staff available for consultation at any point – and meet your client for the hearing. Unless you want a continuance – which is granted as a matter of course to our volunteers – your service should be complete after the hearing.
If you are at one of the sponsoring law firms of this program (Troutman Sanders, King & Spalding, Seyfarth Shaw and Baker Donelson) and are interested in volunteering, please check with the pro bono coordinator at your firm and sign up through that person. If you are not at a sponsoring firm, but are interested in learning about upcoming training or believe you have sufficient experience to handle a case without further training, complete a Volunteer Registration Form and/or contact Cole Thaler.