The Debt Relief Clinic was named the 2022 recipient of the Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access for its commitment to increasing legal services to low-income Tennesseans and reaching that goal through the innovative use of technology.
According to the American Bar Association Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, the virtual clinic serves clients in the Eastern District of Tennessee who earn up to 200% of the federal poverty level. The clinic provides clients with an overview of bankruptcy law and personal legal advice, via private Zoom rooms. There are currently 20 volunteer attorneys assisting 37 clients. These attorneys often agree to pro bono or reduced-fee bankruptcy representation, if it’s determined that bankruptcy is a good option for their clients. Their work also helps to generate income for lawyers who offer affordable services.
“The Administrative Office of the Courts and the Access to Justice Commission are proud to have been able to participate in this project,” said Anne-Louise Wirthlin, Director of Access to Justice at the AOC. “The Debt Relief Clinic is a wonderful example of individuals and organizations identifying a legal need in their community and creating an innovative model to meet that need. We look forward to continuing to support this project and our partners as it expands.”
The Debt Clinic was developed by the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyer’s Division, Legal Aid of East Tennessee and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Suzanne Bauknight. Its partners include the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, Tennessee Supreme Court Access to Justice Initiative and local bar organizations.
The Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access honors the work of those who advance the ABA Mission to expand access to legal services for those of moderate income in ways that are both remarkable and replicable.