In an organization whose objective is to help society’s overlooked, turning away a person in need is the hardest thing anyone at LAF has to do. Unfortunately, it happens due to eligibility requirements imposed by some of our grant funding, lack of capacity, or conflicts of interest, and finding those difficult words most often falls to the folks in LAF’s Client Screening Unit (CSU). Brittany Pritchett, an Intake Attorney in CSU, insists that it never gets easier. “It sometimes feels like we have the wrong-sized band-aid for the problem,” she admits, “But at least we have a band-aid. I realize that if we weren’t here to help, there would be just that many more people that didn’t even have an opportunity to have an attorney, or at least speak to an attorney.”
Though extended representation by an attorney is not always a possibility for everyone who comes into LAF seeking help, Brittany makes sure they get enough legal advice about their case that they feel empowered when they leave.
“It’s my job to give people the tools to represent themselves. I take my job very seriously. We’re backed-up right now, very backed-up, but I don’t let that stop me from giving as much advice as possible to a client. It’s never just giving them lip-service and passing them through. I want to make sure they understand what their rights are because I feel like we have a responsibility to help them get justice.”
The ripple of events that occur when a person in poverty is met with injustice can feel like free-falling. An integral part of achieving justice for a client is equipping them with information that will help them through their specific legal problem, and put them into a space where they feel more secure. Some people have the fortune of operating within society’s safety net, but others were dealt a different deck. People fall out entirely.
“Somebody once asked if LAF is the safety net. No, we’re the trampoline under the safety net. If somebody falls out of the safety net, we bounce them back up.”
Your support makes it possible for people like Brittany to help even more people living in poverty. Individual contributions provide LAF with much-needed unrestricted funds, enabling the staff to provide top-flight legal services to people in need. Make your tax-deductible gift to LAF today at www.lafchicago.org.