Very, very sobering news this week where I learned that Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii (VLSH) may be on its last financial legs. For those unfamiliar with VLSH, it is a non-profit “formed in 1981 by members of the Young Lawyers Division of the Hawai’i State Bar Association. Volunteer Legal’s mission is to help low-income people and families achieve access to justice.” Basically, VLSH is the main clearinghouse to place low-income people with volunteer attorneys throughout the state. And this year, after over 30 years, it may have to close its doors. Thousands of Hawaii residents have been helped by VLSH over the years, all of whom would not otherwise been able to afford an attorney to help them. Residents who have needed help in the areas of family law, consumer issues, landlord-tenant, employment, and many other fields would have no one else to turn to, have been able to utilize Volunteer Legal. Yet at this point, it is on the brink of closure, due to lack of funding. If VLSH is forced to close its doors, it will be a sad and shameful event for me as a Hawaii lawyer. I still believe that it is a privilege not a right, to practice law as an attorney — and with that privilege comes a responsibility to assist those without the ability to afford an attorney. While we cannot address all those individuals who cannot obtain a lawyer, VLSH represents our efforts and our good faith to help who we can. Volunteer Legal need financial support from the State Legislature, the Judiciary, and the Hawaii State Bar Association. If you believe in the efforts of VLSH, write or call to show your support:
For those people who would really like to show their support, some of us will be wearing green ribbons to raise awareness of VLSH’s current situation. Green ribbons will be available at the VLSH office (545 Queen Street) and the Family Court 3rd floor counter, in Kapolei.
Green ribbons will be available at the VLSH office and Family Court
I realize that in the current economy finances are difficult for just about every non-profit organization as well as the State government, but we cannot let this invaluable organization go down with little more than a whimper. I hope you will help. — Gavin, 3/13/2012