Once a month, needy individuals with legal problems can start to find some relief at a South Side clinic.
The Woodlawn Legal Clinic at AKArama Center, 6220 S. Ingleside Ave., is open every second Wednesday of the month from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The clinic caters to those seeking assistance in dealing with any number of legal problems, including martial and housing issues.
Ald. Willie Cochran (20th), whose ward includes the clinic, said additional opportunities for free legal assistance are necessary to help the growing number of families in need.
"Not everyone understands how to handle legal matters and as a result things sometimes go from bad to worse for them," said Cochran, a former Chicago police officer. "This clinic helps people understand the process."
The clinic is geared toward low-income households, and provides free advice and referrals by attorneys on issues such as divorce, child support, evictions or expungement of criminal records. The clinic does not handle criminal cases, such as murder, but does help fill out court paperwork and, at times, provides legal representation in court on civil matters.
Latasha Holmes, 37, plans to attend the clinic to seek advice about a divorce.
"I have been married for nine years, but things have been going bad for the last seven and I can't take it anymore," said Holmes, who lives with her three children and husband in Roseland. "We don't have much to fight over but our kids ,and I doubt if he wants custody of them."
A lot of area residents go to the clinic looking for help with evictions, according to organizers. Herbert Walker, 44, will be among the clients coming in next week seeking housing assistance.
"I lost my job and was denied unemployment, so I am screwed," Walker said. "I have lived in my [Englewood] apartment for six years and never been late with my rent until last month. My landlord is taking me to court and I don't know what to do. It's too cold to be getting evicted."
The clinic was created in 2010 through a partnership between Chicago downtown law firm DLA Piper, the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, and the Woodlawn Children's Promise Community.
Walk-ins are welcome, but Anne Helms, a clinic volunteer and attorney with& DLA Piper, said it's best to make an appointment by calling 312-341-1070 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays.