LYNCHBURG, Va., Oct. 6, 2017 – Four students are learning about legal aid work and assisting in representing actual clients through a new clinic created by Liberty University School of Law and Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc. (VLAS).
This is Liberty University’s first clinic in which law students represent clients in civil cases in all levels of the area courts and before administrative agencies. Classes began Aug. 21.
A working group of VLAS and Liberty University Law School administrators, faculty, attorneys and staff determined the clinic’s practice areas and general structure. Then VLAS designed the curriculum and lectures. VLAS is providing clients, attorney supervision and instruction for the weekly class meetings, and private attorneys in the Lynchburg Bar Association will provide additional mentorship and support for the students.
“We are excited to offer these selected third-year students a unique opportunity for experiential learning – a chance to work on real cases from start to finish under an attorney’s guidance – while at the same time providing additional legal services to low-income people in Central Virginia,” said B. Keith Faulker, Dean of Liberty Law School.
Legal Services Corporation., which funds legal aid programs throughout the nation, provided critical financial support for the clinic in late 2016 when it awarded VLAS a competitive $327,899 grant from its Pro Bono Innovation Fund. The grant supports the clinic as well as VLAS’s efforts to grow its network of attorneys who provide pro bono services throughout Central, Southside and Western Tidewater Virginia. Liberty University also provided financial and many other types of support to help launch the clinic.
Kristine Smith, an attorney and VLAS’s Pro Bono Director, will lead the instruction and supervise the students’ case work. The students are expected to handle cases in the areas of housing, unemployment compensation, consumer protection, public benefits, permanent protective orders and no fault divorces. Liberty University School of Law has named Smith an adjunct professor in recognition of the role she is playing in the students’ education.
The first week features intensive academic work, including daily classes with legal experts sharing their particular areas of expertise. For the rest of each year-long clinic term, students will mix classroom study with client work using facilities at Liberty University and the Lynchburg office of VLAS.
“This clinic is providing invaluable exposure to legal aid work and the Lynchburg Bar for Liberty University students, while giving us a chance to help more clients who otherwise could not afford to hire an attorney,” said David Neumeyer, Executive Director of VLAS. “This partnership with Liberty will help the school, our organization and the communities we both serve.”
For More Information Contact: David B. Neumeyer, Esq., Executive Director (434) 238-2222, or
Rhonda Knight, Director of Development (434) 455-3085
Virginia Legal Aid Society is a nonprofit law firm that provides legal information, advice and representation in civil cases to underprivileged individuals and families. Since 1977, VLAS has been the only institutional provider of such services in Central, Southside, and Western Tidewater Virginia. VLAS attorneys and paralegals use legal skills to solve problems in housing, access to health care, income and public benefits, family issues, consumer lending and assets. Our mission is to resolve serious legal problems of vulnerable people, promote economic and family stability, reduce poverty through effective legal assistance, and to champion equal justice. For more information on our services, to get involved, or to make a donation, please visit us at www.vlas.org and follow us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/VaLegalAidSociety, and Twitter @VA_LegalAid