Legal advice is hard to come by, but some students are serving it up on wheels.
On Saturday, a group of law students from ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law boarded the “Justice Bus” to give free legal advice to residents in Prescott Valley.
Mary Juetten, a second-year law student graduating in the fall, helped organize the Justice Bus. Juetten said after she went to seminars in California, she started to think of how to incorporate the idea of a traveling pro-bono legal group involving ASU students.
Through research on foreclosure rates in Arizona, Juetten found that the Prescott Valley had high rates and could likely use legal advice.
“First we’ll go north, then Sierra Vista, then go to the east and then west and do it again,” Juetten said.
ASU’s Consumer Advocacy Protection Program sponsored and organized the Justice Bus. Other student organizations like the Volunteer Income Tax Association and the Civic Justice Clinic also helped. Wills for Heroes, a nonprofit organization of lawyers that helps create wills for firemen and police officers, and volunteer lawyers from Phoenix and Prescott Valley, also helped the Justice Bus.
On Saturday, ASU law students and the other volunteer organizations left Phoenix at 7:30 a.m. and arrived in Prescott Valley at about 10 a.m., ready to give legal aid.
NAU helped by providing facilities to host the event.
Students helped people with income tax returns and gave informational sessions on consumer protection laws. They also gave legal advice about mortgage foreclosures, tax fraud, debt and unemployment.
Kyle Robertson, a first-year law student, said he volunteered with the Justice Bus after he heard about it through the Consumer Advocacy Protection Program.
“Legal advice is not really accessible, and cheaply accessible,” he said.
Robertson participated in a question and answer session about credit cards, loans and foreclosure.
“A lot of people are having problems paying for their homes,” Robertson said. “I’m a homeowner and I kind of understand.”
Wills for Heroes volunteered at the local Prescott Valley fire department and helped 58 families write wills.
Marcy Karin, faculty adviser for the Justice Bus, said the program complements ASU.
“It’s not just kids sitting around. They are going around and helping the community,” Karin said.
Next semester, the Justice Bus will head down to Sierra Vista with ASU’s Business Law Assistant Program and answer questions for new business owners.
As far as spring next year, Prescott will be seeing more of the Justice Bus, Juetten said.
“We decided to go back to Prescott Valley next March and we’ll go earlier in the month,” Juetten said. “We’ll publicize the income tax stuff so we’ll have more people.”
The student organizations that are involved with Justice Bus are always available to answer any questions for students, especially about student loans, Robertson said.
“It’s such a pleasure to see students go out throughout the state and volunteer,” Karin said.
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