Samaritan Center Legal Care
1310 E. McCarty
Jefferson City Mo,65101
Website for attorneys:
How do applicants register?
Every applicant for Legal Care must come to the Samaritan Center and go through the normal Samaritan Center intake registration process and provide identification, financial and demographic information. (Special arrangements will be made for home-bound persons.) Registration is from 9:30am to noon, Monday through Thursday and 4:00pm to 6:00pm Thursday.
Geographic service area:
Samaritan Center Legal Care primarily serves people in the counties surrounding Jefferson City including Cole, Moniteau, Miller, Osage, Maries and Callaway. In special situations, persons living outside of this area may be served, if the jurisdiction is within the area or can be handled through pro se assistance (limited scope representation.).
Areas of law in which assistance is offered:
All civil matters. No criminal or traffic matters. We will apply a principle of de minimis non curat Legal Care. Where appropriate, applicants will be referred to the small claims court process.
The program is primarily for persons whose household income is at or below 150% of federal poverty level. See chart. We do not rely solely on tables of numbers to determine need but also assesses human and community factors. For example, although a person may not be presently in poverty, failure to provide assistance may trigger a series of dominoes tumbling them into poverty by losing their job or their housing.
Through volunteers Legal Care provides assistance to low-income persons on federal and Missouri income returns in order to help them obtain the credits (e.g. Earned Income Tax credit and Missouri Property/Renter Tax Credit) and refunds to which they are entitled.
Financial management skills:
We are now developing a “Dutch uncles & aunts” program of lay persons who will work with applicants to develop basic financial management skills.
Collaboration between Legal Care and Legal Services:
When the matter is within the scope and resources of Mid-Missouri Legal Services, referral of the matter would be made to them. Also MMLS to refers matters to Legal Care, e.g. where MMLS has a conflict or where federal law limits MMLS from serving certain persons such as prison inmates. There is on-going collaboration between MMLS and Legal Care.
Special information and
resources for attorneys:
- Representation is between you and the client:
We expect that you wish to reserve final judgment on whether or not you will accept the applicant as a client and whether as a pro bono or a reduced fee arrangement until after you have interviewed the applicant.
Cases referred to volunteer attorneys may involve legal services without compensation, reduced fee services or limited scope representation. Samaritan Center does not charge clients for any service. During the prescreening an evaluation will be done on the applicant’s ability and willingness to pay a reduced fee if referred to an outside attorney. Agreement on a reduced fee will be between the attorney and client. The Legal Care program will only facilitate this communication. Occasionally an applicant may present a matter appropriate for contingent fee services. When that occurs Legal Care will give the applicant information on attorneys practicing in the appropriate area of law who also participates in the Legal Care program.
It is Legal Care’s goal that attorneys and mediators who provide free or reduced fee services to persons referred by the program will not have out-of-pocket expenses. Legal Care will pay expenses from the donated funds which are pre-approved. Donations to the Legal Care fund are tax deductible. Types of expense considered for reimbursement are: filing fees, document copying, recording fees, out-of-town travel mileage, etc. Attorneys are expected to use every available means to reduce or avoid fees
and costs such as in forma pauperis applications etc. Information on anticipated expenses should be sent to the Samaritan Center by mail, email, or fax for pre-approval. Only pre-approved expenses will be paid. We will also advance expenses.
- Limited scope representation:
The new Supreme Court rules on limited scope representation greatly facilitate pro bono representation. We encourage attorneys to use this tool. The client is helped to represent themselves to the extent of their abilities. Limited scope saves time and resources. For more details see the Deskbook for Pro bono Attorneys.
- Support resources:
The facilities of the Samaritan Center are available to volunteer attorneys accepting clients from Legal Care during times that the staff is present, i.e. 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday and 8:00am to 6:00 pm. Tuesday and Thursday. Contact Jackie Mathews, for scheduling (573-634-7776). Private offices will be available for confidential client conferences. The boardroom will be available for depositions, mediation conferences, education etc. Volunteer secretarial services, copying etc. will be available for attorneys without offices.
- Conflict of interest:
Before a matter would be referred to an attorney, the prescreening team at Legal Care would interview the applicant and obtain basic party identification and legal facts. This information would be provided to the attorney who is considering accepting the matter. At that time the attorney can assess whether he or she has a conflict of interest. In any event, the attorney always has the right to not accept a matter.
- Client records:
Samaritan Center recommends that each attorney keep client records as they would for any other client. However, if the attorney does not have an office or otherwise wishes, Samaritan Center will provide a secure place at the Center for Legal Care client records. Separately Samaritan Center will maintain records for evaluation and improvement of the Legal Care program.
- Will the lawyer-client relationship be continuing once the attorney accepts a matter?
Continuing a lawyer-client relationship beyond the current matter will up to the attorney and the client. We recommend that the attorney make clear to the client from the start that the relationship is only as to the one matter and that once the matter is completed, the lawyer-client relationship will end. If they have a new legal problem or reoccurrence of the present problem, they should contact the Samaritan Center Legal Care first and not the attorney. A clear closing letter to the client is recommended with a copy to the Samaritan Center Legal Care program.
- Protracted matters:
Legal Care program will use team approaches to protracted matters so that one attorney is not over burdened. For example, one attorney would agree to attempt to settle the matter without litigation, another agree to handle a trial, if negotiation failed, a third handle an appeal, if required. We will try to define “manageable roles” for volunteer attorneys.
- Matters outside of your normal practice:
What if a participating attorney is asked to accept a matter of which he or she has limited experience or knowledge? Just say no, if you are uncomfortable with the referral. However, others of the lawyer team are available to help you. The Legal Care lawyer team is organized according to areas of legal knowledge and experience. These mentor-consultant lawyers agree to be available to you by phone or email to answer questions.
Experienced volunteer attorneys are available to mentor less experienced attorneys on legal matters.
Legal Care encourages mediation where appropriate. Volunteer lawyer and non-lawyer mediators are available to work with attorneys and clients.
- Forms library:
Forms are available especially for limited scope representation matters. Also see Deskbook for Pro bono Attorneys
- Language translation:
Spanish translators are available through El Puente.
- Malpractice coverage:
Legal Care is approved to participate in the free malpractice coverage provided by the State of Missouri. We will assist you is registering for the coverage. This coverage only applies if the attorney provides legal services without compensation. See Section 105.711.2(5), RSMO and Attorney General’s regulations for
- Free MCLE:
In appreciation for the contributions of volunteer attorneys and to develop skills for pro bono representation, Legal Care provides free MCLE programs. Legal Care is approved by Mo Bar as a MCLE sponsor.
- Social services support:
Legal Care is a program of the Samaritan Center. The Center provides numerous services to needy persons including: food, clothing, furniture, a dental and medical clinic, assistance with obtaining free medications from drug companies, state and federal tax assistance, utility assistance, rent assistance and other monetary assistance. Frequently when assisting a pro bono client, the client has need for basic services. Samaritan Center can help with these allowing the attorney to take a holistic view of the client’s needs.
- May attorneys participating in the Legal Care program refer needy persons to the Samaritan Center for the Legal Care program or other services?
Certainly. If the person is being referred for help from the Legal Care program, please e-mail or fax a note alerting us that you are referring them and providing any information which you think is helpful. If you are willing to represent them for free or reduced fee but are referring them for assistance with expenses etc., please so indicate.