BRISTOL, Tenn. – The Bristol Tennessee Bar
Association will begin hosting monthly free legal advice clinics to assist
low-income individuals. The first monthly clinic will be held on Oct. 12, 2013
from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Bristol Faith in Action. The location is 1534 Euclid
Avenue in Bristol, Va. Successive clinics will occur on the second Saturday of
The legal clinic is a walk-in only clinic and is open to the
public; no appointments are necessary. Volunteer attorneys and paralegals from
the Bristol Tennessee Bar Association will offer legal counsel free of charge.
Individual cases will not be accepted, but may be referred to community
resources or legal aid agencies. The clinic is being offered as part of the
Tennessee Supreme Court's Access to Justice Initiative.
Johnson City attorney Tony Seaton has been working with a
similar clinic in Johnson City for the past few years. Additionally, a monthly
clinic was recently established in Kingsport. According to Seaton, the clinics
are about lawyers helping people. "Legal matters can be intimidating for many,
and our goal is to remove that intimidation and give people sound direction and
counsel," he says.
The Access to Justice Commission appointed by the Tennessee
Supreme Court has encouraged similar programs in different areas of Tennessee
to provide better access to the court system. Johnson City began a legal clinic
in 2011 and Kingsport launched a program in September.
Bristol Tennessee Bar Association Pro Bono Coordinator
Suzanne Shackelford Queen has been instrumental in launching the new Bristol
clinic. According to Queen, "Many people have difficulty obtaining legal
services due to the cost. So often, I hear from pro se litigants – those who
are representing themselves – that they don't know where to turn, they don't
know what to do next, and they don't feel as if they are even heard when they
go to court. This is our opportunity, as volunteer attorneys, to help them
navigate the legal waters and to give them a stronger voice so that they will