CLSMF Helpline Hours Extended
Every day more than 200 calls for legal help come into Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida’s (CLMSF) Helpline. Serving as the main point of entry to the law firm, the attorney staffed hotline acts as the triage center for low-income Central Floridians facing civil legal problems. Calls are fielded for advice, brief services or full representation on matters involving consumer protection, family law, children and education, domestic violence, elder abuse and neglect, health and income-related benefits, housing, and veterans’ benefits.
In 2017, the CLSMF Helpline received 37,000 calls from concerned residents facing life-changing legal issues. This demonstrates a significant need for legal aid in the community. The reality is that navigating the justice system without an attorney is too complicated for most people to handle on their own, and many cannot afford to hire a lawyer to guide them through the process. Due to this, studies show that 50-80% of low-income Americans’ legal needs go unmet.
To increase the number of calls answered and people helped, the CLSMF Helpline is extending hours of operation. Daily hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. are being extended to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. In addition, the Helpline will now be open on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Residents seeking help can call 1-800-405-1417 during these hours to speak directly to an attorney and receive free legal services.
Not only is the Helpline extending hours, it is implementing upgraded software that will allow an automated call back for callers instead of having to wait on hold in the queue. The new system will empower CLSMF to better track and predict peak demand times and increase attorney productivity.
The extended hours and upgraded software will allow CLSMF’s Helpline to assist 45 to 50 additional callers each week.