Counsel & Advocacy Law Line - Phone Intake
The Counsel & Advocacy Law Line (CALL) is a division of Lakeshore Legal Aid which began operating in 1997. CALL works in partnership with Legal Services of Northern Michigan, Legal Services of South Central Michigan, and Legal Services of Western Michigan. We offer an attorney-staffed telephone advice, brief service, pro se and referral system serving low income and senior people throughout much of Michigan.
CALL attorneys offer poor and senior people equal access to basic legal help via telephone, answering over 2200 calls per month. Eligible clients receive immediate legal advice and brief services, and ineligible callers are offered private bar and social service referrals. Last year, this practice resulted in free legal help for nearly 13,000 poor and senior people, and referrals for over 6000 others.
CALL attorneys regularly resolve consumer, education, employment, health and housing disputes, secure and protect public benefits, and guide pro per litigants through domestic, housing and other civil actions. Our negotiation efforts have helped clients void unconscionable contracts, maintain utility service, resolve insurance disputes, alter bus and classroom assignments for children, regain employment and obtain due compensation, avoid eviction and foreclosure, void and extend leases, maintain subsidized housing, and obtain performance of necessary home repairs. We have also assisted clients in recovering or avoiding payment of over $100,000 during each of our many years of operation. In addition, the legal information and counsel provided by CALL assists individuals in advocating on their own behalf. Clients have thus been empowered to proceed in pro per in family court, district court and small claims court, to conduct negotiations with opposing counsels and parties, and to actively work to resolve their own insurance, public benefits, employment and neighborhood disputes.
CALL has also increased access to basic legal services across the state by opening doors to communities underserved due to language and cultural barriers. CALL employs attorneys conversational in Spanish, French and German, and subscribes to LanguageLine, a service that facilitates communication with virtually all callers through near-immediate connection with Certified Translators in 150 distinct languages. All attorneys are also trained to talk with hearing-impaired clients through Michigan Relay.
In summary, CALL is an effective, efficient legal service delivery system that increases access to justice, empowers people, and widens the scope of legal services available in the community. For more information, please call our business line at (248) 443-8068.
Low-income and senior people are invited to call for
FREE LEGAL ADVICE.
Our toll-free number is: (888) 783-8190
A low-income St. Clair County couple provided day care services for the children of an FIA Child Day Care (CDC) subsidy recipient. When FIA sent the recipient’s case to Lansing for “recoding,” the clients low-income and receiving benefits themselves were denied payment for over ten weeks of services. Lakeshore attorneys interceded with FIA to get the recipient’s case correctly coded and recover the denied payments. Client thereafter received back payments from FIA totaling $2185.
A working mother of two was sued on a $6298 auto repossession deficiency. However, the creditor failed to sue within four years of her last payment, as required by the UCC and First of America v. Thompson, 217 Mich App 581 (1996). Lakeshore drafted a pro per answer and summary disposition motion for client, and the judge dismissed the case with prejudice.
Client's estranged husband fraudulently opened nine credit cards in her name. He was held responsible for the debt in their divorce, and eight of the credit card companies released her from liability. Lakeshore contacted the ninth, Citibank, assisted with a fraud petition, and negotiated on client’s behalf. Citibank ultimately found fraud and freed her from the $9700 obligation.
An elderly woman contacted Lakeshore when $379 was taken from her account without authorization. Lakeshore helped the client prepare an Affidavit of Unauthorized/Improper Entry, and negotiated an agreement whereby the bank credited her with $379 plus transaction fees, and provided her with a letter of explanation for use with insufficient fund costs from other institutions. Finally, Lakeshore provided the client with literature regarding telephone scams, to help her manage future phone solicitations.
Client’s father died, leaving only an employer-paid life insurance policy. The company claimed the benefit was $5000, rather than $25,000 as detailed in the employee benefits manual. Lakeshore attorneys reviewed the manual, contacted the company, and secured payment of the full $25,000 benefit, which was split evenly between client and her brother.
A disabled woman was sued on a $1689 utility bill. She acknowledged the debt, but could not afford to pay in full. Lakeshore drafted a pro se answer, then negotiated a consent judgment providing for a settlement of $500, payable in $25 installments.
A phone company denied client a new phone service, alleging a past-due bill. Lakeshore attorneys advocated for the client with the company and the Michigan Public Service Commission. An MPSC investigation resulted, yielding 14 citations against the company. The phone company voided the $3700 bill and provided client with a written apology, free new phone hook-up, and $500 credit.
Client's furnace failed, and the dealer refused to honor his warranty. Lakeshore attorneys intervened, and the furnace was replaced. When the second furnace also failed, Lakeshore secured a written agreement for repair, replacement or refund of the $3000 purchase price in Fall 2002, when regular heat cycles were again running and the problem could be diagnosed.
A senior woman took her computer in for repair. When the shop owner failed to return it or respond to her letters, she sued in small claims court and won a $1089 judgment. The client, however, wanted a computer, not money. Lakeshore attorneys contacted the shop owner, who promptly provided her with a new computer, free installation and training, and court costs.
A Huron County single-mother of two pursued a pro per divorce against her represented husband. After the final divorce hearing, opposing counsel was ordered to submit the judgment of divorce. He failed to do so, however, and Client received a notice of intended dismissal for lack of activity. Lakeshore attorneys contacted the court clerk and persuaded her to place a hold on the case to prevent dismissal, and then repeatedly contacted the opposing counsel regarding the judgment. The opposing counsel did eventually present a judgment, and the client’s divorce was successfully finalized.
A young birth-mother contacted Lakeshore after learning that Child Protective Services was investigating the family with whom she placed her baby for adoption, due to an unreported termination of parental rights case against the potential-adoptive father. When the client contacted the family, they refused to answer any questions and advised that she would never again see the child. Lakeshore attorneys helped the client prepare a revocation of temporary placement for adoption, coached her through court self-representation and, after the judge entered an order for return of the child, helped her obtain facilitative services for the transfer of the baby back into her care. The client and her infant were happily reunited.
A 37-year old mother of four contacted Lakeshore regarding custody of two children in her estranged husband’s care. She sought a change because her husband inadequately cared for the children, lived in crowded, substandard housing and was inconsistent regarding which children he wanted with him. Lakeshore provided advice, written materials and pro per support, and the client filed for a change of custody. Prior to the hearing, however, one of the children revealed to a counselor that his father beat him with a board and belt and kicked him with cowboy boots. Child Protective Services became involved, but declined to remove the children. Upon our advice, the client sought an emergency hearing and was awarded custody of all four children. Empowered by this success, the client then re-filed a previously abandoned pro per divorce, and by the end of 2002 had obtained: 1) physical and legal custody of her four children; 2) transfer of her custody case from a distant to near county; 3) an increase in child support from $41.50/week to $185.75/week (allowing her to discontinue receipt of public assistance and increase her family’s standard of living); and 4) an absolute judgment of divorce from her abusive husband.
A disabled woman suffering severe chronic pain contacted Lakeshore because her Medicaid HMO network did not include a surgeon qualified to replace medical hardware protruding through a muscle in her back, and because they refused to authorize an out-of-network surgeon to perform the operation. Lakeshore attorneys contacted the HMO and mobilized client's doctors to advocate on her behalf. Pressure from Lakeshore and the physicians ultimately led the HMO to approve an out-of-network surgery, and the procedure was performed by the specialist for whom client initially sought plan approval.
Client, a victim of mental illness, was hospitalized several times during her marriage. The medical debt incurred was assigned to her husband in their divorce, but client’s tax refunds were annually garnished. Client believed the garnishments were her ex-husband’s fault, and her abiding anger with him exacerbated her mental condition. Lakeshore investigated, and through contact with the Michigan Treasurer and Department of Community Health secured a review of client’s hospitalization records. State errors were discovered and client’s former tax garnishments, totaling $3600, were returned. Client also learned that her ex-husband was blameless in the matter, relieving her anger and facilitating her mental health.
A Michigan Medicaid recipient incurred emergency hospital bills while visiting California. FIA repeatedly refused to pay the out-of-state charges and, after a year, the client sought legal help. Lakeshore attorneys contacted the FIA caseworker, and then proceeded up the chain of command to Michigan’s Department of Community Health Director. The Director determined that the bills arose from an unforeseen emergency, and FIA paid the outstanding $8,750.06 debt.
A Huron County single-mother of two sought legal help 12 days before a sheriff’s sale was scheduled on her home. Lakeshore attorneys analyzed the facts and determined that client did not have a legal defense to the foreclosure. Nonetheless, our attorneys negotiated to postpone the sale. We then helped client navigate the social service and banking network to raise funds. One month later, client paid the full arrearage of $6289 and the sheriff’s sale was permanently cancelled.
A disabled, low-income Tuscola County resident sought legal help in an eviction from subsidized housing for admitted code violations. Lakeshore attorneys negotiated with the landlord, obtaining a mutually satisfactory move-out date, a waiver of damages in the amount of $200, and a neutral recommendation for future subsidized housing.
A disabled man disputing his mortgage company’s calculations of amounts owing contacted Lakeshore after receiving notice of foreclosure and sheriff's sale. Lakeshore demanded an accounting from the company, resulting in a 5-month sale postponement. During that time, Lakeshore negotiated a repayment agreement, allowing the client to avoid foreclosure and retain his housing.
A Section 8 housing recipient faced a non-payment eviction after suffering a heart attack and missing work. Lakeshore intervened and negotiated a consent judgment, giving the client 3 months to bring his rent current. The grace period allowed the client to simultaneously save, seek assistance with the arrearage, medically recover, and maintain his subsidized housing.
A mother of two, temporarily out of work due to 7th month pregnancy-related complications, called in the morning to say that the Sheriff was coming to evict her family at 4:00 p.m.. Upon investigation, Lakeshore learned that, while a judgment for non-payment was properly entered, the client had secured FIA/SER assistance to cover the delinquent amounts. FIA, however, waited five days past the allowable 10-day period to issue payment. Lakeshore contacted the landlord and begged him to accept the late FIA payment and stop execution of the writ. By noon, the landlord relented and the client’s family retained housing.
A disabled, low-income Oakland County senior sought assistance after the Veteran’s Administration asserted that he had been overpaid approximately $10,000 in benefits. Lakeshore attorneys investigated the matter and determined that the VA had attributed annual lottery winnings of $28,000 to the client, rather than simply to the one year in which he did win that amount. Our attorneys then helped client to obtain a hearing with the Veteran's Administration to protest the alleged overpayment of benefits after expiration of the appeal period, and secured representation for Client at hearing before VA through the Department of Veterans Affairs. At the hearing, approximately $8000 of the alleged overpayment was waived, and the VA agreed to consider waiver of the balance as a hardship.
A young mother of five contacted Lakeshore regarding a divorce. While interviewing the client, our attorney discovered a benefit underpayment issue. Advocacy with FIA yielded a $300/month increase in the family food stamp allotment.
Client contacted Lakeshore after receiving notice of a $1917.47 SSI overpayment and monthly recoupment plan. Lakeshore attorneys requested an accounting, and succeeded in reducing the overpayment charge to $705.73, saving client $1211.74.
Client contacted Lakeshore because she did not understand (and her worker could not explain) why her Medicaid Spend-down increased by $130/month while her income remained the same. Lakeshore intervened and achieved a Spend-down reduction of $250/month, retroactive for six months. In addition, a food stamp recalculation resulted in a benefit increase of $140/month.
A 47-year-old homemaker with few skills was divorced in 1998. In the divorce, client was awarded half of her husband's 17-year pension. Three years and two paid attorneys later, however, the QDRO necessary to achieve payment of the $542.50 monthly benefit remained unfinished. Lakeshore thus prepared the QDRO, and the client filed a successful pro per motion for its entry. Further, because client's ex-husband wrongfully received the full $1085/mo benefit for several years, the plan administrator opted to pay the full amount to client for an equivalent time. Client will thus receive (over a period of 53 months) retroactive benefits of $28,752, plus monthly benefits of $542.50 thereafter.
Phone Intake Resources
Because Justice for Some is No Justice at All.