Eastern Michigan Division

What is the WBLAC?

The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center rehabilitation program addresses the physical, medical and psychological needs of the participants.  The Clinic, as one more tool in the continuum of treatment, addresses the legal needs thereby enabling participants to become independent, fully functioning members of mainstream society.

The Clinic’s outreach program into the broader community provides free legal assistance to individuals from Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Wayne counties who live at or below the national poverty guidelines. Just recently, the Michigan State Bar Foundation granted the Clinic $10,000 to assist clients with financial issues including credit card debt, identity theft, eviction and foreclosures.

Since inception, the Clinic’s services have included:
> New Clients: 19,624 
> Interviews: 43,462
> Client Issues: 32,742
> No. of Volunteers: 168
> Visits to Court: 1,851
> No. of Volunteer Hours: 18,889
> Court Cases Assisted: 18,218
> Est. no. of Referrals to other agencies: 38,022

The Clinic:
> Ensures legal representation for needy people
> Addresses an unmet need – no other legal aid service is offered as part of a comprehensive, rehabilitation program
> Educates clients with regard to their legal rights and obligations
> Eliminates legal problems as causal factors preventing individuals from re-entering society as gainfully employed responsible citizens who have broken the cycle of poverty and dependency.

The Clinic offers unique educational opportunities through its externship program.

The Clinic utilizes Student Staff Attorneys from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Wayne State University Law School and Ave Maria School of Law who work as law school externs and receive course credit or work part-time for a minimal stipend.  The students conduct interviews, do research and are allowed to appear in court under the direct supervision of a member of the State Bar of Michigan.  Additional staffing is provided by former students who volunteer their time without receiving credit and pro bono attorneys.

This educational initiative reduces staffing expense while providing the students with a broader knowledge and experience in the field of poverty law.  As future leaders and legal professionals, the program increases the students’ level of sensitivity and awareness of community service needs.

The Clinic provides legal services in the following areas: Divorce/family law; Landlord/tenant; Public benefits and entitlements; Juvenile/guardianship; Immigration; General advocacy and Child/spousal abuse.

In 1995, the Michigan State Bar Journal wrote: “In Michigan, there are 143 Legal Aid lawyers:  One for every 10,714 poor people (versus one for every 250 non-poor).  To deny adequate legal service to the poor is to deprive our most needy of a lifeline into society.”  Since that time, the number of legal aid clinics in the State of Michigan has been reduced from 13 to only 5 (1 legal aid attorney for approximately 30,000 poor individuals.)  The need for free legal services has never been greater. To Give to the William Booth Legal Aid Clinic, click the button to the right and write in "William Booth Legal Aid Clinic" under Specific use. Thank you for your support.

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To Give to the William Booth Legal Aid Clinic, click the button above.

The Salvation Army William Booth Legal Aid Clinic exists to address the legal problems of the indigent population of The Salvation Army Harbor Light treatment facilities, those receiving social services from the various Salvation Army corps and those living in poverty within the greater community to the end that all may serve as productive, self-sufficient members of society, free from legal entanglements.

The William Booth Legal Aid Clinic was established in August, 1994, for the purpose of improving and facilitating the administration of justice in the community. The Clinic became part of The Salvation Army in January of 2000, and is under the direction of a volunteer Advisory Council and operates with a minimal staff of Clinic Director, Executive Director, one part-time attorney, legal assistant and legal externs. Additional staffing is provided by volunteer law students, paralegals and attorneys.
The Clinic requires financial assistance and in-kind donations of products and services to continue its educational service and to provide legal representation for needy people. With the necessary support, the Clinic plans to expand the program to make legal service available to more people. Listed below are suggestions for joining our efforts: > Private and corporate financial donations > The Clinic is eligible under the Michigan State Bar Association to receive pro bono contributions > Name The Salvation Army William Booth Legal Aid Clinic as beneficiary of proceeds from your club, school or businesses special event for community service programs > Utilize the Tribute Program by making a donation to the Clinic in the name of someone you wish to honor for a special occasion or in memoriam > Let us know of potential grants, trusts, endowment and other funds available to charitable organizations > Spread the word about the Clinic to raise the level of community awareness about the program and its needs.

Amy Roemer
Attorney at Law
Clinic Director


Harbor Light Center
3737 Lawton
Detroit, Michigan 48208


Tel: (313) 361-6340
Fax: (313) 361-6348
e-mail:
wblac@usc.salvationarmy.org