Tampa, Fla. – On June 10, 2014 at 5:30pm, Tampa law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick will host the kickoff for Project H.E.L.P., (Homeless Experience Legal Protection). The founder of Project H.E.L.P., New Orleans federal district court judge, Jay Zainey will attend this special event.
Each year, the American Bar Association (ABA) selects five cities across America to launch this initiative, and Tampa is the final of five for 2014–and the only city in Florida-- to launch this year.
“The ABA chooses cities with a high homeless population but with no free legal clinics to support that population,” said Jennifer Roeper, SLK immigration partner and Ambassador to Metropolitan Ministries.
Metropolitan Ministries has offered its location for Project H.E.L.P. free legal clinics that will be offered once a week on Tuesday nights in Tampa, staffed by different law firms in the area.
“Sometimes there are very basic legal issues that homeless people face that are a hindrance to getting back on their feet. For example, if someone can’t afford to pay a simple loitering ticket, it can turn into an arrest warrant. If a lawyer can get involved, it may allow that person to get to a shelter and get a job- something they may not be able to do with an outstanding arrest warrant,” said Roeper.
Other common issues these free legal clinics can tackle include domestic violence, social security, stolen or missing driver’s licenses, or identity theft. “Sometimes just access to a computer and an attorney can solve a huge problem,” said Roeper.
The event kickoff at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP is an effort to spread the word to other law firms to encourage involvement, and to help promote the program, which will begin immediately after the event. It will be held at the SLK law offices located at 101 E. Kennedy Boulevard, Suite 2800, Tampa, FL.
Project H.E.L.P. began in New Orleans in early 2004, when a newly appointed federal district court judge, Jay Zainey, accompanied his fellow judges to serve a meal at a local shelter. While serving the meal, Judge Zainey began to think how much more an attorney could do for the shelter clients, and how that kind of service could change people’s lives. With that simple but electrifying thought, H.E.L.P. was born. Judge Zainey began to round up volunteer lawyers to staff a weekly clinic at the shelter, and had more success than he had ever imagined. Soon he had hundreds of lawyers, clinics in more than one shelter, and the desire to do even more. H.E.L.P. began to expand to other cities, prodded and encouraged by Judge Zainey and helped along by law firms who were volunteering in New Orleans but also had offices in other cities. Today, H.E.L.P. volunteers are providing free legal services to the homeless in over 15 cities, and the list continues to grow.
Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP is a full-service business law firm with more than 225 lawyers, 55 paralegals and 475 employees in five offices: Toledo and Columbus, Ohio; Tampa and Sarasota, Fla.; and Charlotte, N.C. In each of its markets, Shumaker is the premier provider of quality legal services to individuals, small businesses, health care providers, nonprofits and Fortune 500 and international corporations.