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Just Help closes, ending legal assistance

A local non-profit legal aid organization closed its doors.
Posted on Feb. 2, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Feb. 4, 2013 at 9:53 a.m.

ELKHART — A local nonprofit organization that provided legal aid has closed its doors.

Just Help: Elkhart County Legal Advocacy Center said in a press release Friday that it was forced to close because it was “not able to find and keep committed attorneys trained in this area of law and willing to serve this clientele.”

The organization was founded in 2009 by a group in the area to provide legal services to low-income families and families whose primary language is Spanish, according to the press release. Over its two and half years, the organization provided services to more than 1,200 clients.

Though the organization was growing financially, it became a challenge to keep the attorneys on staff for various reasons, including personal ones.

“While recruitment efforts have shown there are a significant number of attorneys looking for work, most are new graduates without the needed legal experience to step into a busy nonprofit legal aid organization,” the press release said.

The model for payment the organization used consisted of asking clients to contribute to the cost of legal service through a sliding fee based on income and family size. The model proved to be successful, the organization having become self-sustaining, according to the press release.

“Just Help was overwhelmed by the demand for its services, confirming the significant need for legal assistance for this constituency,” according to the release.

In the last few months, the organization changed its location from Goshen to Elkhart because it was convenient for clients, most of whom lived in Elkhart, said the press release.

However, the board members have not ruled out the idea of reopening the agency’s doors in the future.

“Just Help has enjoyed amazing financial support from individuals and churches in the community and is very grateful for the resources entrusted to it,” said the press release.


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