September 12, 2017 | Richard Halprin
In times of strife, hardship and uncertainty, the Salvation Army has long been recognized as a beacon of hope and source for help for those most in need. While assisting countless people facing myriad adversities through its proud, storied history, it wasn't until more recently that the Salvation Army formally recognized indigency as an impediment to adequately navigating the legal system on the pathway to new beginnings. Established in 1994, William Booth Legal Aid Clinic was missioned with the goal of paving the way to fresh starts and new opportunities by providing quality, cost free legal services for low income individuals and families. Since its inception, the WBLAC has continued servicing the Salvation Army's Harbor Light Programs, shelters and other similar projects while steadily expanding its reach to assist indigent individuals, families and U.S. Military veterans throughout the metropolitan Detroit area.
With the assistance of a small staff of attorneys and part time student interns, the Clinic now addresses nearly 2,000 issues each year, assisting clients with a wide variety of cases including landlord-tenant issues, child support, custody, parenting time, consumer advocacy,and creditor-debtor laws. The Clinic also has joined forces with the Wayne Circuit Court, conducting several free outreach programs each month to assist local residents with pending family law matters.
Since the spring of 2013, the Clinic has been been hosting its Walk for Justice Fundraiser at the Detroit Zoo and has seen its attendance and revenue nearly quadruple from the inaugural event. This family friendly outing draws participants from all over the metropolitan Detroit area, including many judges, attorneys and other members of the legal and business communities around metropolitan Detroit. Featuring all day access to the zoo, entertainment, refreshments and an impressively stocked Silent Auction, the Walk for Justice consistently offers something fun for everyone, kids and adults alike.
The WBLAC relies on private contributions from law firms, corporations, foundations, and individuals and it is this generous private support that allows the clinic to be a powerful and positive force in the lives of low-income tri-county residents by providing counsel on several thousand legal matters each year. But for each client it helps, the clinic turns away many others because it simply lacks resources. The WBLAC is looking for contributions and support in its mission to make the legal system accessible for all.