Colorado Legal Services provides a free monthly legal advice clinic for low-income Summit County residents | SummitDaily.com

Colorado Legal Services provides a free monthly legal advice clinic for low-income Summit County residents

Pat Craig, director of the Northwest Colorado Legal Services Project, at her office at the Workforce Center, July 5 in Frisco.

Food. Gas. Rent. Health care. Day care. Car insurance. For working folks in Summit County, there's never enough money left at the end of each expensive month. So when a legal crisis hits, paying potentially thousands of dollars for a lawyer might just be impossible. That's when many turn to Colorado Legal Services for help.

CLS offers free or low-cost legal services to low-income residents in Summit and all across the state for civil legal issues like family law, housing problems, eviction, protection orders, elder care and senior law, as well as other civil matters that seriously affect livelihoods. CLS does not handle criminal or traffic matters.

Pat Craig is director of the Northwest Colorado Legal Services Project, which serves 11 counties including Summit, Clear Creek, Gunnison and Pitkin. Craig said that over 900 people sought help from CLS in the first half of this year alone, and the number of people seeking help rises and falls along with the economy.

"It might be surprising to know how many people are struggling to get by up here in the mountains," Craig said.

Craig said that CLS prioritizes clients who are truly facing peril, such as victims of domestic violence, children, and people in danger of losing their home or source of support. In the mountains, domestic violence victims and people with housing issues such as eviction or foreclosure are the most common clients.

"We see as many clients as we can, we have a small attorney panel and try to save them for people who are most at risk," Craig said.

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CLS does the intake for clients, which includes a financial disclosure to verify their low-income status. If qualified, the client is then referred to an attorney drawn from the Continental Divide Bar Association who donates their time and services.

CLS also hosts a monthly drop-in clinic on the first Thursday each month in Summit and Eagle where low-income residents can walk in and get up to a half hour of free legal advice on family law, tenant-landlord law, protection orders, consumer protection and collections issues.

The clinic is first-come, first-serve, and will next take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on August 2 in Summit at the Workforce Center, 602 Galena St. in Frisco, and in Eagle County at the Eagle County Justice Center at 885 Chambers Ave.