The Northwest Justice Project
While lots of exciting things have been happening at the office, this week I wanted to share my praise for a local organization: The Northwest Justice Project (NJP).
What is NJP?
NJP is a publicly funded organization that helps Washington residents in a number of ways. The first is through attorney-advocacy for certain legal issues for low-income citizens. Issues NJP works with includes tenant assistance, foreclosure assistance, predatory lending, domestic violence, and access to health care.
The other benefit NJP provides is legal information to all Washington residents. They offer a hotline for people to phone or email with legal issues (called CLEAR). They also maintain resources for people to look at legal issues on their own: a resource database and the NJP YouTube channel. All of these resources are available to all Washingtonians, free of charge.
Why is NJP good for Washington?
One of the reasons I became an attorney is to help people navigate our often treacherous and confusing legal system. Many people facing serious legal issues, like criminal charges or evictions, simply don’t have the resources to either do the needed work on their own, or hire their own counsel. And needless to say, mistakes with these issues can have lifelong consequences.
The fact is, I absolutely can’t stand it when ordinary citizens have to go to court without counsel, or even basic knowledge of court processes. I believe strongly in a level-playing field, and in our system, those that have attorneys or legal educations have inordinate advantages over those that don’t. Meaningful access to the courts should not be exclusively for those that can afford it.
NJP helps low-income people, those who can’t afford an attorney, get an advocate for their serious issues. NJP won’t help someone sue a neighbor or fight off the IRS. But they will intervene if a family is going to be put on the street, or someone is being exploited by a predatory lender.
These kinds of issues affect all citizens in a number of ways. First, we should be concerned whenever anyone in power is manipulating or exploiting the less fortunate. But from a pecuniary standpoint, giving legal help now prevents many people from declaring bankruptcy or needing public assistance later. A little advocacy or legal education when the issues are still in the courts can provide immeasurable benefits down the road. NJP is a great tool for Washington.
How can I help?
If you care about ensuring all citizens are entitled to legal assistance for critical issues, there are two ways you can help.
The first is through financial donations. As I said, NJP is publicly funded, which means they rely in large part of the contributions of people and businesses around the state. I am proud to say this office donates to Northwest Justice.
The second method, and one easier on your pocketbook, is simply getting the word out. NJP is a great resource but it’s only works when people know about them. Tell your friends and family, especially if someone you know is facing a serious legal issue and can’t afford an attorney. It never hurts to call and it never hurts to let them know about the information available.
Hiring an attorney is the best way to get dedicated help for any legal issue you may need. But if you’re low income, or just want more legal information about a topic, assistance is available. Check out Northwest Justice Project and if you think your friends and family would appreciate it, tell them about NJP too.