Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) provides civil legal advice and representation for low-income people in every county in Maine. This is achieved through a network of nearly 600 private attorneys and numerous lay and student volunteers.
In U.S. Law, attorneys are not provided to low-income people with civil cases (unlike defendants in criminal cases). More than half the civil litigants in Maine District Courts appear without a lawyer, potentially creating an unfair advantage to the litigant who can afford premier legal representation. In light of this imbalance, VLP has developed strong programs for guardianship, bankruptcy, foreclosure, consumer debt, unemployment compensation, and family law.
Domestic violence victims, plaintiffs who might otherwise face their abuser alone (although their abuser comes to court with a public defendant), are represented by skillful, caring attorneys who give freely of their time and expertise; VLP is working to end this cycle of abuse, fear, and helplessness.
In 2010 VLP provided service to more than 5,000 Maine people (1,545 received full representation) and answered more than 10,000 legal inquiries. VLP is working to fulfill what former Maine Chief Justice Wathen called "the social contract obligation that all officers of the court help open the doors of justice to all of Maine's citizens."