June 2016 Bar Bulletin
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Public Law Library:
A Hub for Getting Legal Help

By Marc Lampson
Public Services Attorney



People representing themselves in legal proceedings in King County can now choose from a variety of helpers, many of them in the library itself, and some others throughout the courthouse.

First, there are the providers of direct service — attorneys giving limited legal help to our patrons. Second, there are many, many “self-help” packets in the library created by various attorneys and agencies that patrons can find online or copy from our hard-copy binders. Third, patrons can get help from other pro se-oriented offices and agencies throughout the courthouse. The choices are many and growing every day.

Direct Service from Attorneys in the Library

The attorneys who provide direct, person-to-person help in the library may be paid staff or volunteers, and legal help is now available in the library five days a week during certain hours.

Mondays: Legal Help Center

On Mondays, the library runs the Rita R. Dermody Legal Help Center (LHC), created by the Public Law Library and staffed by the library’s public services attorney. The LHC helps patrons find and fill out forms, negotiate court procedures and processes, and obtain assistance concerning a wide variety of legal issues and without regard to income.

The help is free and is not limited to a specific time frame. Patrons seeking LHC’s help should arrive any time prior to 9 a.m. At that time they will pick a number, which determines their place in line to have a brief talk with library staff about whether we can help them further. If we decide someone might be helped by our public services attorney, that person will get an appointment for a little later that morning.

Also, on the second Monday of each month, from 2:45 to 4:45 p.m., the library hosts a re-entry clinic run by Columbia Legal Services and staffed by its attorneys. They help patrons with housing, employment, legal financial obligations and other matters for people with criminal histories. People in need of these services can call 206-287-8625 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to get an appointment. Walk-ins will be re-scheduled.

Tuesdays: Legal Help Center and
NJP’s Debt Collection Defense Clinic

Besides operating the LHC as noted above, on Tuesdays the library also hosts the Debt Collection Defense Clinic organized and staffed by attorneys from the Northwest Justice Project. Patrons do not need an appointment, but should come prepared with all documents concerning their situation. The clinic runs from 1–3 p.m. and is very popular.

Wednesdays: KCBA YLD
Walk-In Clinic

On Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the library hosts a walk-in clinic run by the King County Bar Association and staffed by members of the Young Lawyers Division and KCBA’s Neighborhood Legal Clinic program. The clinic provides a free, half-hour consultation with an attorney about any legal issue patrons may have.

Thursdays: KCBA Neighborhood Legal Clinic

On Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m., the library hosts KCBA’s Neighborhood Legal Clinic (NLC), part of a decades-
long program providing legal assistance throughout the county to King County residents. It provides patrons with a free, half-hour consultation with a volunteer attorney on any legal issue.

However, for this clinic people must set up an appointment ahead of time with KCBA. People should call 206-267-7070 from 9 a.m. to noon, Tuesday through Thursday, for an appointment.

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