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Front Page - Friday, December 13, 2019

Meeting legal needs during the holidays

Judge Barry Steelman hangs a case on the Pro Bono Christmas tree in the Hamilton County Courthouse. - Photo by David Laprad

Holiday cards typically contain a warm greeting or wishes for a happy new year. But the cards that adorn the Christmas tree on the first floor of the Hamilton County Courthouse contain a somber message.

Each card contains an active but unassigned case at Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Although the covers of the cards sport snowmen, snowflakes and other holiday trimmings, the inside of each card describes a civil legal need of someone who can’t afford to hire an attorney to handle it.

From an adoption to a landlord-tenant dispute, the issues are far-ranging and will require the expertise of a lawyer to reach a resolution.

“This client has been receiving two sewer bills from the City of Chattanooga Waste Resources Division since 2015. The client is mute and has been unsuccessful in clearing up the issue,” reads one.

Scouts from Girl Scout Troop 40235 made the cards. Local judges then gathered at the Hamilton County Courthouse on Dec. 6 to hang the cards on the tree. The judges then announced the completion of the Pro Bono Christmas tree during docket call Dec. 9 and encouraged attorneys to visit the courthouse and take a case.

“My hope is that the Pro Bono Christmas tree will help local attorneys who are willing to donate their time see the need for and the value of the work Legal Aid of East Tennessee does,” says Robyne Lopez, LAET Pro Bono coordinator. “Their participation is invaluable to those in need in our community.”

Contact Lopez at 423 402-4763 or rlopez@laet.org for information.