In small claims court, there is a tremendous unmet need for counsel to help vulnerable clients argue their cases against collection agencies. With the launch of the Lawyer for the Day Fair Debt Collection Clinic in Small Claims Court, the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association (VLP) and its volunteer partners are hoping to change all that.
Hsindy Chen, a staff attorney at VLP, gave us some details on an upcoming training that will ready attorneys for participation in the clinic.
Pro Bono Training: Representing Debtors in Small Claims Court
Tuesday, February 28, 2017 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Boston Bar Association – 16 Beacon Street, Boston, MA
“This training is for the lawyer for the day clinic in small claims court which aims to level the playing field between debt collectors and pro se debtors. The debt collection industry has notoriously targeted the most vulnerable consumers, often without providing adequate proof that they own the debt. Approximately 75% of all small claims cases in Massachusetts are brought by debt collectors seeking to enforce debts against consumers. Nearly all of these consumers appear for trial without counsel. However these cases often have significant defenses, of which these consumers are unaware or unable to effectively argue. Attorneys will learn the substantive law for debt collection, as well as practical skills for client interview, negotiations, and making arguments before a clerk magistrate. After the training, attorneys will be ready to take their own pro bono cases at the lawyer for the day clinic in small claims court. The lawyer for the day clinic is a great opportunity to volunteer on a limited basis as the cases are typically resolved that same day through trial or settlement. Attorneys will get hands-on experience in court and develop litigation skills in a fast-paced but manageable environment.”