Civil Legal Needs: A Message From Executive Director Chris Purnell

 
Chris Purnell

Chris Purnell

 

This past weekend, I raced from Saturday-morning soccer with my kids to one of the Legal Clinic’s intake sites at New Circle Church. During these intake sessions, I met many of our low-income neighbors. I met a man from Honduras who wanted to renew his work permit; a woman who needed help in settling her mother’s estate; a young lady from Nicaragua who was a DACA-recipient; and a domestic violence survivor who was trying to save her home from foreclosure. Each one had a story. Each one had experienced pain and hardship. And each one needed an attorney to guide them through their complex situation.

Sadly, however, that is not a possibility for most low-income Hoosiers.

In the latest Civil Legal Needs Study commissioned by the Indiana Bar Foundation, there is only 1 attorney available for every 10,000 low-income Hoosiers. There are 20 for all others.

Moreover, 96% of the legal issues faced by the poor go unrepresented by an attorney.

These numbers can sometimes make me feel hopeless, like the mountain is too high for our low-income neighbors to scale as they attempt to access the levers of justice on their own.

But there is hope.

Ultimately, we know that God cares deeply about justice for the vulnerable; ultimately, we know that he will put things right and establish justice for everyone. And, in the here and now, he has given us resources to ensure that people get what is rightfully theirs.

Some of you are attorneys who can volunteer your time. Some of you speak a second language and can volunteer to interpret. Some of you have a gift of intercession and can pray for those in need. And many of you can give financially.

Thanks to the generosity of several families, during the month of June, we are going to match, dollar-for-dollar, every contribution made to the Clinic up to $25,000.

Through you, many of our low-income neighbors will receive the gift of hope. The Apostle Paul says that hope does not disappoint us (Romans 5:5). Because there is a savior who was able to stare death itself in the face, not blink, and rise from the dead, we can have hope. And you can share that hope with others through your words, through your actions, and through your giving.

May you respond to the call to give generously. May you delight in giving hope to others. And may you always have hope in the God who never disappoints.

Until justice and peace embrace,

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Chris

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