The project, a partnership with several legal, city and community organizations, brings lawyers to the courtroom to assist people going to eviction hearings. They’ve enlisted the help of law students in the Civil Clinical Law Program who do research on cases, helping the volunteer lawyers prepare to represent clients when they come to court, said Mindy Rush Chipman, director of the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights, which began the project.
The program — which is being duplicated in Omaha and has received several awards — also uses outreach volunteers to go to people’s homes once an eviction lawsuit has been filed against them. Volunteers give families a packet of information to make sure they understand they need to show up in court, get legal representation, and can sign up for rental assistance.
As soon as people get off the elevator in the courthouse, a law student and a volunteer attorney working together will greet them and offer assistance, Rush Chipman said.
In August, Sullivan said, there were 30-40 eviction cases a week.
“The moratorium was one of the tools in our toolbox to keep people housed. Now that tool’s been taken away,” said Rush Chipman.
That means the research done by law students on each case is even more important so that attorneys can help people come to an agreement that works for both the landlord and the tenant.