LAD assists Macomb Self-Help Center

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At the grand opening of the Macomb Self-Help Center are (left to right): Michele Hall of Legal Aid and Defender Association, Judge James M. Biernat, Jr. of Macomb County Circuit Court, Justice David Viviano of the Michigan Supreme Court, and Angela Tripp of Michigan Legal Help.

Photo by John Meiu

Legal Aid and Defender Association, Inc. (LAD) is helping staff the new Michigan Legal Help (MLH) Self-Help Center of Macomb County, which held its grand opening Oct. 22.

The center is located in the James C. Daner Law Library on the fifth floor of the Macomb County Court Building, 40 N. Main St. and is open to the public on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.

Visitors seeking to represent themselves in court can access computers and printers, and receive assistance using the MLH website in English or Spanish (http://www.michiganlegalhelp.org/ or http://michiganlegalhelp.org/es). All services are free.

The center represents the joint efforts of MLH, LAD, Macomb County Circuit Court, Macomb County Bar Association (MCBA) and Baker College. Interns from the college's paralegal program serve as navigators, helping visitors find what they need on the MLH website. Staff from LAD's Macomb County office in Mount Clemens supervise the navigators.

"While navigators cannot give legal advice, they can answer questions about court practices and processes, help visitors locate and complete [State Court Administrative Office]-approved forms available on the website, and find referrals to a lawyer or community service providers," MLH Program Director Angela Tripp said.

"We're so excited to be part of this project," Michele Hall, chief counsel of LAD's Civil Law Group, told guests at the grand opening. She thanked Tripp; Dr. Kevin Ball, director of business and paralegal programs at Baker College, Clinton Township; and the center's other collaborators, including James M. Biernat, Jr., chief judge of the circuit court; Carmella Sabaugh, Macomb County Clerk; Rick Troy, MCBA executive director; and Dawn Prokopec, president of the Macomb County Bar Foundation.

Hall also thanked Justice David Viviano of the Michigan Supreme Court. "Justice Viviano was a supporter of ours since we first came into Macomb County," Hall said. "We went to him on many projects, he was always supportive of ways that we could deliver quality legal services to the low-income members of our communities."

Lastly, Hall thanked the navigators from Baker College, Maryann Hamama and Tracy Hawkes. "Thank you so much for being our guinea pigs, as we call them. We know you will do well. I myself am an adjunct professor at Baker College and work with paralegal students, and it's such a joy to work with students who are so dedicated and committed to the legal profession."

Published: Thu, Oct 29, 2015

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