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California Pro Bono

Inner City Law Center *

Organization Description


Inner City Law Center has been serving the poorest and most vulnerable individuals and families in Los Angeles County since 1980. Founded on the basic principle that every human being should be treated with dignity and respect at all times, ICLC, through its staff of 30 attorneys, advocates, tenant organizers, social workers, and other professionals, provides free legal representation and social service advocacy to over 2,000 homeless and working poor clients each year. In the past five years, ICLC has recovered more than $15,000,000 for its low-income clients. For many clients, ICLC is the first step out of homelessness and into safe and dignified housing.

As the only full-time provider of legal services headquartered on Skid Row, ICLC is widely recognized for its expertise in housing issues, as well as government and veterans benefits.

Pro Bono Project Description:


HABITABILITY LITIGATION
Inner City Law Center has substantial experience with forcing slumlords to fix up their buildings and to compensate our clients who have suffered physically and emotionally from unsafe, unsanitary, and dangerous housing conditions. We receive referrals about substandard buildings from many sources, including other nonprofit organizations, city agencies, and current and former clients. Our staff assesses the level of problems, establish relationships with the tenants of these buildings, and help to identify and cultivate potential tenant leaders as well as potential clients.

Before a case is filed, ICLC staff work with landlords to encourage them to voluntarily repair their buildings. Our longstanding relationships with the LA Housing Department and City Attorney's Office are crucial to our ability to encourage landlords to voluntarily bring their buildings up to code.

When landlords fail to comply with their legal obligations to repair their buildings, ICLC's legal team often steps in and files a lawsuit on behalf of the tenants. ICLC provides training and mentorship for pro bono attorneys who want to help with habitability cases.

For more information contact Betsy Handler, Director of Legal Services, bhandler@innercitylaw.org

HOMELESSNESS PREVENTION PROJECT
With skyrocketing property prices and increasing rents, some landlords would like to evict their current tenants and charge higher rents (or convert their rental properties to condominiums). Our staff assists individuals and families facing imminent eviction. As with our habitability cases, our staff first tries to amicably resolve the issue between the tenant and the landlord. Often these cases can be resolved favorably for our clients simply by educating the landlord about the requirements of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. But, when necessary, our legal team will go to trial to defend our clients against unlawful evictions and to keep families in their homes, or to obtain legally mandated relocation assistance. We provide training and mentorship for pro bono attorneys who want to help with eviction defense cases.

For more information contact Betsy Handler, Director of Legal Services, bhandler@innercitylaw.org

HOMELESS VETERANS PROJECT
ICLC's Homeless Veterans Project serves those who have served our country, especially those who have one or more disabilities as a result of their military service. Working with pro bono attorneys from law firms or retired from active practice, we assist veterans to file new or reopened claims, or to appeal denials from the VA. We help veterans receive monthly benefits, increased access to healthcare, and access to subsidized housing. For veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, this can mean the stability and independent living that they need in order to receive regular treatment for their disabilities. Our new area of growth is to meet the specialized needs of female veterans who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, obtain the compensation and health-care benefits that they are entitled to because of their service. In order to help with veteran cases, pro bono attorneys are required to get certified by the VA. ICLC will provide the training and technical support to handle a veteran case.

For more information contact David Ackerly, Directing Attorney, DAckerly@innercitylaw.org




  • Location of Volunteer Opportunity: Los Angeles
  • Area of law: Education, Foreclosure, Homeless, Housing, Public Benefits, Veterans
  • Populations Served: Children, Communities of Color, Elderly, General Public, Immigrants, Lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender, Low Income, Military/Veterans, Persons with Disabilities, State Residents, Women, Working poor and unemployed
  • Projects For: Interpreters, Law Students, Lawyers, Nonlitigation Projects, Paralegals
  • Need for non-English services: Spanish
  • Hours for Pro Bono Opportunities: Flexible, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
  • Does the organization provide malpractice insurance for volunteers? Yes
  • Training Provided: Yes
  • Training Required: Yes
  • CLE credit for trainings: Yes
  • CLE credit for pro bono: No
  • Mentoring or supervision offered: Yes
  • Volunteer lawyers need to meet a caseload or hours requirement: No
  • Volunteers may participate long-distance: No
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