This project was formed in 2000 as a result of a report issued by the statewide Commission on the Future of Vermont’s Justice System, which highlighted the need for qualified attorneys to represent children in high-conflict proceedings involving divorce and parenting. Children First! provides legal representation to children caught up in particularly difficult and contentious disputes in family court (divorce, post-judgment, parentage, etc.) and probate court (guardianships). Though all of the clients in Children First! cases are juveniles that are represented by court appointment only, SRLC attorneys and clinicians also in effect assist parents and guardians involved in these cases to refocus their parenting and their involvement in their children’s lives. In this way, the SRLC helps adults assume appropriate parental responsibility for children in terms of their housing, employment, household finances, and education.
The Domestic Violence project began in 1997 and provides legal representation to address the legal needs of Vermont victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in final relief from abuse proceedings primarily in Windsor and Orange counties. This project serves as a no-cost resource to survivors of domestic violence, individuals and families that would not otherwise be able to access legal services. The project also provides training to domestic violence and rape crisis advocates.
VIA has provided pro bono legal support to Vermont’s growing community of immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers since 2003, offering direct legal representation to non-citizens seeking legal status in the United States. The project provides assistance primarily in three areas: (1) help with VAWA Petitions and I-751 waivers (domestic violence); (2) U-Visa applications (victims of crime); and (3) asylum cases. VIA is one of only two programs that specialize in providing pro bono legal services for immigrants in Vermont. In representing asylum-seekers, VIA is also involved in a special program for survivors of torture. In partnership with the University of Vermont’s Connecting Cultures Program, VIA partners law students with psychology Ph.D and Masters of Social Work students to provide comprehensive legal, psychological and case management services to this most vulnerable population, through a program called New England Survivors of Torture and Trauma (NESTT).
VLAP was established in 2014 to provide pro bono legal assistance to Vermont’s military veteran population. The project represents veterans with state civil law issues in Windsor and Orange counties, as well as on a statewide basis in matters concerning veterans law-specific issues, such as appeals from the denial of VA benefits and discharge upgrades. VLAP also assists veterans with debtor issues such as bankruptcy relief, foreclosure defense, and consumer protection. Through ongoing outreach to community partners, VLAP continues to develop awareness of veterans’ needs and advocate for adequate services.
Additionally, The South Royalton Legal Clinic provides assistance to low-income residents of Windsor and Orange Counties by offering legal information on a variety of civil issues. Types of cases include family matters (divorce; separation; parentage; child support); representation of juveniles committed to state custody as Children in Need of Services (CHINS); landlord/tenant law; bankruptcy and consumer matters; wills and guardianships; and family law assistance to prisoners.