Legal aid at Harbor Light


An estimated 150 people have received free legal assistance in Denver, Colo., thanks to an innovative partnership between the Christian Legal Society of Metro Denver and The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center.

Almost a year ago, James Helfrich, director of legal aid for the Christian Legal Society of Metro Denver, and several volunteers started a legal aid clinic at the Harbor Light Center. Today, people come in with all types of legal issues, from child custody to driver’s license problems. The clinic is designed to give answers to legal questions and help point them in the right direction. “In general, we are giving them triage help,” Helfrich said. Although the volunteer lawyers don’t generally take cases, occasionally there will be a client who needs more intensive help and then one of the lawyers will take their case either pro bono or for a reduced fee.
Helfrich says it works better when the people are in a program and are working to rebuild their lives. They are the people who are ready for help resolving legal problems.

Not only do the volunteer lawyers help Salvation Army clients’ legal issues, but they also are equipped to help them resolve spiritual issues.

“We tell them ‘now that you know about these laws, do you know about these spiritual laws (The Four Spiritual Laws)?’” Helfrich said. The lawyers also ask if it is OK to pray with the clients. Helfrich says that most of them say yes.

Clarence Walker has sought legal aid through the program at Harbor Light. “They come to you, you don’t have to search for them,” he said. “I’m glad the service is offered. They are pretty thorough about helping you out.”

The clinic operates Fridays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and one Thursday evening a month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Clients from The Salvation Army’s Lambuth Family Center and Crossroads Shelter have also used the program.

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