Legal Action Center
Constance Locklear is interning with the Legal Action Center (LAC) in the Neighborhood clinic this summer. The LAC offers free legal assistance to low income persons in King County who are facing evictions and subsidy terminations, landlord/tenant issues and debtor/creditor issues related to past tenancy. As part of the Neighborhood clinic team, Constance works exclusively on landlord/tenant and creditor/debtor issues including repairs and habitability, deposits, retaliation, leases and subleases, and debtor/creditor issues related to past tenancies. For these cases, Constance works with a volunteer attorney to evaluate the client's legal problem, and provides follow-up representation to resolve the matter out of court. For Constance, the appeal of pro bono legal assistance generally and landlord/tenant law specifically is its potential to empower people in a system that tends to be extremely one-sided.
July 2, 2012
Admittedly, I wasn't sure what to expect when I started at the Legal Action Center. I didn't know anything about landlord/tenant law or legal public interest work. Now that I've been here for a while, I really enjoy the work. Some of the work is fairly straightforward, but even things as simple as wrongfully withheld security deposits can become nuanced.
One thing I’m finding very frustrating is the general lack of communication from opposing parties. There are only so many letters I can write and phone calls I can make before telling a client they would be best off going to small claims court or forgetting the whole matter. The latter is the hardest. It is very difficult telling someone they either need to spend the time and the money to file a suit or just let the other party keep their money. Hopefully as my internship progresses, I will be able to get a win for a client.
July 28, 2012
It has been so interesting working at the LAC this summer. At the beginning, I thought landlord/tenant law was fairly straight forward and my internship would be a simple exercise in applying the law to each client's situation. However, it has turned out to be a rather nuanced part of the law and I have found the system to be extremely one-sided; seriously favoring the landlord. The imbalance of the system combined with the socio-economic situation of the LAC's client base has opened my eyes to many things. Primarily, the great need in this area, the fantastic work the LAC does to fill that need, and the devastating lack of funding to the LAC, which leaves an already underserved population practically deserted.
While this is an area of the law that is very imbalanced, we have had some successes this summer nonetheless. We assisted a client in retaining her housing voucher, we got a client's wrongfully withheld security deposit returned, and we helped another client out of homelessness and into permanent housing. The work is hard, but the little wins make the work worth it. I have truly bonded with my co-workers and the work. I am very excited that I will be able to continue interning with the Legal Action Center through the fall and do my part to increase access to justice.