Pro Bono

Need a lawyer? Tennessee places of worship are ready to help

Places of worship in Tennessee are helping indigent people find pro bono lawyers in a program developed by a commission of the state supreme court.

The faith-based initiative began in February with Methodist churches in Middle Tennessee, the Associated Press and the Chattanoogan report. The program, developed by the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, is expanding to other Christian denominations and faiths.

The participating faith-based groups recruit pro bono lawyers to whom they refer needy members with legal problems. The lawyers will do the legal work themselves, or will refer the people to other organizations that can help.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Connie Clark was among those who pushed for the faith-based initiative. “People show up every day at churches and synagogues and mosques, and they may not ask for legal help. They may need food assistance. But often there is an underlying legal problem,” she told AP. “We realized we can help more people by going to where they are already going for help.”

The AP story highlights how the program helped Grace Liverman, a 66-year-old woman with lupus who needed a will. She called her pastor and learned the church was participating in the pro bono program. A lawyer came to her home and prepared the document. “It was like a miracle, almost, that someone would do this for me,” she told the wire service.

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