KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An upcoming clinic is helping veterans navigate legal issues with free legal advice.
Since 2016, Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Knoxville Bar Association have offered legal advice at no charge to veterans at the district public defender’s office in Knoxville. Veterans and their family members can receive legal advice on many issues such as estate planning, landlord disputes and child support.
For many people, the cost of hiring a private attorney is beyond their financial reach. For veterans, whatever their age, the legal advice clinic scheduled for Feb. 8 has many benefits.
Veterans Services officer Nathan Weinbaum assists veterans every week at his office in Maryville. The main focus for service officers is to guide veterans seeking VA benefits and other questions. However, some have issues that may require an attorney.
“We see all kinds of divorce, child support, car wrecks, personal injury. Even where a vet is being taken advantage of,” Weinbaum said.
However, Weinbaum and his service officers are not attorneys. That is why his office appreciates the Veterans Legal Advice Clinic.
“Having this space and being able to provide a space for them to come and meet with lawyers to assist in their needs is the least we can do to give back for everything that they have given us,” said Eric Lutton, public defender of 6th Judicial District.
The community room at the public defender’s community office will be open from 12-2 p.m. on Feb. 8 for the clinic, pre-registration is not required.
“We do a lot of landlord-tenant, at least that’s what I do. Veterans come and they need help getting repairs, or need help getting some work done at the property they’ve rented. I help them figure out what can I do to help them to get something done,” said Clint Wren with Legal Aid of East Tennessee.
“We’ve had veterans bring in contracts they wanted us to help explain. Or to give them whether or not it is a legitimate business proposal or questions about divorce and custody rights,” said Caitlin Torney with Legal Aid Pro Bono Attorney.
The attorneys who volunteer their time and advice tell us, they consult with each veteran one-on-one.
“Usually we met with them to address the issues that are confronting them, then we refer them to the appropriate attorney or try to give them advice. Nine out of 10 times we can resolve it right here for them,” said Tim Grandchamp, private attorney.
“If a veteran comes in and has some questions about the criminal legal system, myself or one of the Assistant Public Defenders will come down consult with them and figure out what the next step may be,” Lutton said.
The clinic is offered for two hours on the second Wednesday of every month. Over the years, hundreds of veterans have taken advantage of the opportunity to speak with an attorney.
“I’ve talked with folks as far as northern Ohio who made a day to come out here just to get some advice, they could not get that advice in their own state,” Grandchamp said.
Grandchamp said veterans and their family members have come from Nashville and as far away as Memphis to Knoxville seeking advice. The clinic will be at the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office at 1101 Liberty Street, Knoxville.
For information contact, Legal Aid of East Tennessee at 865-637-0484. The clinic is sponsored by the Knoxville Bar Association, the Duncan School of Law, UT’s School of Law and the Public Defenders Community Law Office.