What SCBALAS does Transcript
Established in 1975, the Seminole County Legal Aid Program is a non-profit organization established by a group of attorneys that saw that economically disadvantaged individuals could not access the justice system. They needed help. Our organization consists of staff attorneys and volunteer attorneys that give up their time to provide free services to economically disadvantaged residents of Seminole County.
My name is Silvia McLain and I am the Executive Director of the Seminole County Bar Association Legal Aid Society. And, I have been at the Legal Aid Program for the last 30 years.
My name is Yvonne Alonso and I am a staff attorney here at legal aid.
My name is Kayla Meyer. I’m the pro-bono coordinator here at the seminole county legal aid society and I have to assists the clients that come in that need pro-bono services. And we provide representation, and legal assistance: Everything from family law to foreclosure defense to landlord tenant cases, guardianship cases – things of that nature.
My name is Claudia Malama. The issues that got me to get legal counsel is that i had a foreclosure and then eventually a divorce, child support, and recently guardianship of my sons. Being a guardian advocate is taking care of my sons even when they turn 18. They’re autistic boys. I will still take care of them. The usual stuff that we do is like they are kids; they’re still kids.
Seminole County Legal Aid benefits the community by being a constant presence, and it’s a place people know they can come to when they face legal issues. A lot of our clients we’ve had numerous times. If you have the means to pay for legal issues, it’s not a big deal. You pay for it and you move on. When you get a divorce, or you have a problem with the foreclosure, or landlord, you get an attorney and move on. But our clients don’t have that as a possibility, but they still face legal issues and so we assist people by being constant.
My name is Lawrence Keeper. I live here in Longwood, Florida. I had to seek out legal aid because I didn’t have any money, but i was in the process of getting a foreclosure. I didn’t know enough to really do anything, and I didn’t have any money at the time, otherwise I would have been paying the mortgage. I got to see Silvia McLain who is an attorney, a very nice lady, and she’s been helping me for 2 years. The Legal Aid Service helped me by explaining what was happening. They filed motions to get the bank to acknowledge my existence so I could stay longer. Them Silvia, and legal aid, the paralegals, gave me advice on how to fill out the papers for a better deal.
Our services are provided by a wonderful staff that have been here at least a minimum of 10 years, so when someone comes to our office they don’t get new attorneys. They get very experienced, high quality attorneys.
Because I was passionate about social work, and about law, this just seemed like the perfect fit. There’s a sense of comfort. I felt like this is a place where people really get assistance. It feels like home, it looks like home, and they’re getting help.
Working with the legal aid society hasn’t changed my life, but it kept it from changing because the change would have been I would have had to be out of the house and I’ve been able to stay here. It hasn’t really changed, except for the better.
My grandfather was an attorney in which I think planted the seed and I just really like helping people which is why I have been here 10 years, almost 10 years. What brought me to work at legal aid is the great group of people employed here and I love helping people, and I love the clients so it’s been a fantastic place to work. I believe what’s next for Legal Aid is that we continue to grow by providing free legal services to a very vulnerable group of people, those low income people. If they didn’t have assistance with family types of cases such as domestic violence injunctions, things like that, they wouldn’t be able to hire attorneys – they don’t have the funds to do so.
They’re very interested in your case and they follow up with you with phone calls and emails. That’s wonderful. If I have the chance to meet the board of directors, I will say thank you for my particular case. They helped me. My case was a tough one because my ex was in another state and they made an exception to take my case. It was hard. It was very difficult and painful, but they helped me; they gave me good advice and I am very thankful for that because I thought I wasn’t going to make it. You feel like it’s family, like they take me under their wings and help me.
What brought me to work at the legal aid society is that I love what the legal aid society represents: providing individuals who cannot afford to enter to the justice system to protect there basic legal right, the opportunity to do so. And, since I was born in a country where that opportunity did not exist, I wanted to make sure that i fought for the system to provide individuals with opportunities to access the the justice system, to advocate for their basic legal rights.