Mobile Facility Offers Legal Aid To City Residents
New Yorkers are used to seeing everything from waffles to tacos on wheels, but a one-of-a-kind mobile help center recently hit the streets to help residents navigate the legal system. NY1’s Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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Lawyers on wheels are ready to hit the road.
This week, the mobile legal help center officially rolled into Brooklyn and started helping clients for free.
"The response has been overwhelming. All we have to do is park the vehicle at a community organization and the folks walking by see the mobile legal help center logo and they immediately come here looking for legal assistance," said Randal Jeffrey of the New York Legal Assistance Group.
For more than 20 years, the New York Legal Assistance Group has been offering free help to those in need. Lawyers mainly focus on housing, family, public benefits, and immigrant issues.
Representatives for the group say the new mobile facility is needed across the city. Those getting a little help agree.
"Fees these attorneys want these days are just impossible for people to afford, so this program here is a blessing for folks in this city," said Shaka Zulu, a Brooklyn resident.
"There’s a lot of issues that you can't get taken care of if you don't have the money, like identity theft, and since they do handle that, that’s what I’m here for," said Lorna Corpening, another Brooklyn resident.
It took about $300,000 to get the 40-foot mobile law office up and running. The New York Legal Assistance Group says that the poor and elderly are often confused about the judicial system, so the group hopes to bring those individuals to court if needed.
One of the unique things about the vehicle is that it has video conferencing. A person can sit inside of this camper and speak to a judge who is miles away by using a TV monitor.
"You could be in the Bronx or in South Brooklyn and conduct a hearing from there, and it would be a proper judicial proceeding," said Christopher Portelli of the New York Legal Assistance Group.
The court system is an actual partner of the mobile help center. Lawyers say those in need will have access the law says they should have.
NY1 Update 01/19/12: The original version of this story misstated the cost of the mobile law unit. The correct amount is $300,000.