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Law Firm Counseling Project
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On certain mornings or afternoons each week in four separate locations (Falmouth, Hyannis, Orleans, and Plymouth), law firms and individual attorneys participating in Legal Services for Cape Cod and Islands, Inc.'s Law Firm Counseling Project will interview and counsel low income and elderly clients who are residents of towns in close proximity to the hosting location.


The interview sites are as follows:

Falmouth Human Services, 35-41 Glenwood Place, Falmouth, MA;
LSCCI - Hyannis office, 460 West Main Street, Hyannis, MA;
Cape Cod Bank & Trust Company, Main Street, Orleans, MA; and
LSCCI - Plymouth office, 18 Main Street Ext., Plymouth, MA.


Interviews are generally held on Tuesday mornings and afternoons in Hyannis; on Wednesday mornings in Falmouth and Orleans; and two variable days per week in Plymouth. Appointments will be scheduled for the attorney at one-half hour intervals, beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending with a final interview at 11:30 a.m. for morning sessions, and beginning at 2:00 p.m. with the final interview at 4:30 p.m. for afternoon sessions.


Applicants for service will contact LSCCI. LSCCI will screen clients for geographic and income eligibility and obtain information particular to each applicant's legal problem. Thereafter, the executive director will determine which clients present issues within LSCCI's priorities which are handled by staff advocates and which clients present issues appropriate for law firm counseling project appointments.


LSCCI will schedule the appointments for the clients, send the clients confirmation letters, and make confirmation telephone calls the day prior to the interview. Clients will then appear at the interview site for a specifically scheduled appointment. Absent an emergency, no clients will be seen at the interview site without an appointment.


LSCCI informs clients that they will be interviewed in person at the appropriate interview site by a private attorney who is volunteering his or her time to help, that the attorney will provide the client with advice/brief service on how to resolve the legal problem, and that it is up to the client to follow-through with the attorney's advice.


Generally, clients will only be given one law firm counseling project appointment per legal problem. LSCCI usually cannot provide clients counseled through law firm counseling project with full service representation in-house; however, if a client presents a compelling situation which would warrant further review by LSCCI, the law firm attorney needs to bring the matter to the attention of the executive director.


Each participating law firm will be completely responsible to ensure that the interview site is staffed on its scheduled day.


By noon on the day before each interview day, LSCCI will fax to the law firm an appointment schedule listing client identifying information and a brief description of each client's problem. LSCCI's executive director will review the information before it is faxed.


The day before the interview day, LSCCI will call each client who has a telephone to remind him or her of the appointment. It is possible that on some days, for example, during bad weather, a few clients may not keep their appointments. The interviewing attorney may choose to take reading material or other work to the interview site to minimize the frustration of missed appointments. LSCCI makes every effort to ensure that clients keep scheduled appointments.


During the interview, the attorney will be responsible for evaluating the client's problem for the benefit of the client, and recommending any future course of action which may be necessary or possible. It has been LSCCI's experience that 75 % of clients' problems are resolved to the client's satisfaction by means of an opportunity to discuss the problem with an attorney and receive some general advice.


At the end of each interview the attorney may choose to dictate or to write a summary of the client's problem and the advice offered. The use of dictation equipment taken to the interview site by the attorney has proven to be most efficient. The tape or notes should be transcribed by the law firm staff, and the resulting memo and any other materials will be mailed/faxed to LSCCI for case file processing and retention in the client's file. These summaries should be received by LSCCI no later than the Friday after the law firm appointments.


LSCCI's executive assistant is the recipient of these materials from participating law firms. Materials will be brought to the attention of the executive director and, if necessary, further action will be taken on behalf of the client.


LSCCI staff will be alert for and will accept any phone calls from law firm attorneys on interview days in order to provide assistance when needed.


On occasion, it may be necessary for the law firm attorney to perform some additional work after the appointment, for example, brief research, a phone call, a follow-up letter to the client, or a simple legal document. To the extent possible, the attorney should perform this work. If the case demands more extensive work, the attorney may transfer the case back to LSCCI for further in-house review.


At each interview, the attorney may want to remind the client to contact LSCCI directly if any new problems occur. The attorney is not expected to take any additional unexpected or unrelated calls from the client.


During the handling of cases received at the interview site, each attorney will be covered by LSCCI's professional liability insurance consisting of the following coverages: a) professional liability coverage: $1,000,000 each claim, $1,000,000 aggregate, $1,000 deductible each claim; b) personal injury liability coverage: $100,000 each claim; $300,000 aggregate; $1,000 deductible each claim; and c) disciplinary proceedings costs: $5,000 each claim; $500 deductible each claim.


LSCCI staff will make appointments for clients who have the following kinds of legal problems which LSCCI staff also handle:

Housing -- general landlord/tenant, illegal lockouts, evictions, subsidized housing cases, general housing authority problems, repair problems, homelessness issues, discrimination cases;

Elderly Law -- representation of wards or proposed wards in guardianship and conservatorship cases, representation of wards or proposed wards in involuntary commitment cases, housing, government benefits, utility shutoffs, medicaid, medicare, other consumer health issues, nursing home law, tax abatements, fraud or duress by relatives, wills, home equity conversion;

Disability Law -- overpayments, representative payee problems, work incentive issues, architectural access issues;

Family Law -- advice on abuse prevention issues, homelessness and child custody, divorce, custody, child support, state intervention, post judgment matters on support issues; and

Government Benefits -- Social Security and SSI overpayments, state veterans services, unemployment compensation.


LSCCI staff will also make appointments for clients who have the following kinds of legal problems which LSCCI does not handle:

Landlord/Tenant -- non-emergency lockouts, security deposit cases, housing authority damage claims, some repair problems, utility issues;

Consumer -- inappropriate garnishments, mortgage foreclosures, small claims matters, deficiency judgment suits, automobile repossessions, and general consumer issues;

Simple wills, powers of attorney, homestead declarations;

Elderly Law -- real estate transfers from joint names to the at-home spouse, estate tax returns where a house is the only asset and there is no tax, divorce;

Bankruptcy; and


LSCCI staff does not work in the above areas, but they are recognized as important areas of concern for low income families. The primary service to be provided to clients in these areas will be advice and counseling, and any other service the attorney decides to provide.


On occasion, during the course of the interview, an attorney may find that a client who appeared to be eligible for services is not, or that the client's legal problem is fee- generating, criminal or otherwise outside the scope of this project. In such situations, the attorney may provide the client with the information and advice deemed appropriate, and then the client may be referred back to LSCCI for referral to a member of LSCCI's over-income fee-generating referral panel.


In the event that a conflict of interest becomes apparent during the course of the interview, the attorney shall so notify the client and LSCCI, and the client should be referred back to LSCCI.


Attorneys participating in the Law Firm Counseling Project will become members of LSCCI's over-income fee-generating referral panel, and will be referred cases in accordance with the general operating practices of the program.


LSCCI will provide to each law firm all available reference materials on the legal areas mentioned above. For those areas where useful materials are not available, LSCCI staff will provide any kind of training which might be helpful.

Questions, comments, suggestions?
Please e-mail us.

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This Over-Income Fee Generating Referral Panel is comprised of attorneys who have agreed to accept pro bono referrals from LSCCI. Individuals who telephone LSCCI who present fee-generating cases, or who are over-income and demonstrate the ability to pay fees, are referred to private attorneys on our LRS panel. It is the responsibility of the attorney and client to discuss the fee arrangement.

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Pro Bono Panel: Private attorneys who agree to represent eligible clients for full representation in family law, housing, and other matters as necessary. Attorneys representing eligible clients in this manner will be covered by legal malpractice insurance carried by LSCCI. Contact the Volunteer Attorney Coordinator, or Jacqueline Sullivan, Executive Assistant at 508-775-7020.

Law Firm Counselling Project: law firms generally agree to one morning each month wherein a member of its firm will meet with six different clients to provide counsel and advice only. LSCCI schedules the client interviews and prepares summaries on clients' cases which are forwarded to the participating law firm prior to the appointments.

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