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The Legal Hotline’s First 100 Calls of 2014 – by Libby Vazquez

A mother with a crying child in the background wants to know how she can obtain a divorce from her abusive husband. A caller teeters on the brink of homelessness after being legally evicted from his home. A long-term unemployed father of two wants to know how to file for bankruptcy.  These and some 100 other New Yorkers called the City Bar Justice Center’s Legal Hotline in the first week of the New Year.

Among the first 100 cases, 32% were about Divorce and Family law, 30% Landlord-Tenant and 27% Consumer. The calls to the Hotline reflect what is happening in New York City civil courts, which are jammed with divorce/family law filings, housing court disputes and consumer debt cases.  The Legal Hotline seeks to fill the gap in New York City’s legal services system, as many of the legal services providers are over-burdened and under-resourced, while court clerks can provide some legal information but can’t give legal advice.

The Legal Hotline is the largest free general civil legal hotline for low-income New Yorkers.  In 2013, the Hotline assisted over 11,000 callers, providing advice, legal information and referrals on a variety of civil issues. The Hotline also provided over 1,500 callers with brief services,  including mailing written information to callers on their rights and responsibilities, assisting callers in drafting legal documents, and curing defects in legal documents.

The Legal Hotline can be reached at 212 626 7383, Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Libby Vazquez is Director of the City Bar Justice Center’s Legal Hotline.

 

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