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CLSMF Expands HELPline and Opens Office in DeLand

For 50 years, CLSMF has provided critical civil legal help to thousands of Central Florida residents, however studies show that 50-80% of low-income American’s legal needs still go unmet. With a service area encompassing 12 counties, it is a challenge every day to serve the one million people in the area who qualify for assistance. When CLSMF became the recipient of a large cy pres award earlier this year, we knew exactly how to put those funds to good use: expand our footprint to assist more people in need.     

We started our expansion by investing in the main point of entry to the firm – the CLSMF HELPline. The CLSMF HELPline, staffed by attorneys, intakes each customer, provides them with advice and counsel for their legal issue as well as a holistic check-up of other issues the person may have. Any types of law which are priorities for full representation are then referred within the law firm to the appropriate specialized unit. In 2017, CLSMF received more than 37,000 calls for legal help. With this high demand for legal assistance, it was crucial to allocate funds to the area of the firm that acts as the counsel and advice center for residents seeking help with their legal problems. The addition to the HELPline is located on the first floor of the CLSMF Orlando office and employs up to 11 attorneys at any one time. To further increase the amount of calls answered, the HELPline has extended the hours of operation on Tuesdays and Wednesdays until 6:30 p.m. and is now open on Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The HELPline expansion and extended hours will allow attorneys to assist an additional 300 callers each week. This expansion is in addition to our original Sanford location that employs up to 11 attorneys at any one time. 

CLSMF also expanded its brick and mortar services by opening an eleventh office in DeLand, in addition to the already well-established office in Daytona Beach. The new office is a response to the West Volusia community to implement a holistic approach to their residents, as CLSMF handles Domestic Violence cases and assists card holders of the West Volusia Hospital Authority with their legal issues. In the past 18 months, CLSMF handled 3,600 cases in Volusia County, impacting the lives of more than 7,000 individuals. Most commonly, Volusia County residents seek legal assistance on family law issues, housing problems, and consumer concerns.   

DeLand attorney Sherri Akin, the Volusia County Bar Association representative of the CLSMF Board of Directors and CLSMF Board Treasurer, believes the new office will provide great benefits to West Volusia residents and opportunities for civic involvement to area attorneys. Sherri stated, “One of my goals when I joined the CLSMF board was to increase access to legal services for West Volusia residents. I am pleased to welcome CLSMF to our community and hope that area attorneys take advantage of the opportunity to assist its mission and volunteer to provide pro bono assistance to legal aid clients through the convenient DeLand office.”