New IndyBar Foundation program to pay lawyers to provide legal aid

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The Indianapolis Bar Foundation has implemented a new program in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic to put dollars in the pockets of young lawyers while continuing to provide free legal services to the public.

Implemented by the foundation amid shutdowns caused by the coronavirus health crisis, the Crisis Empowerment Grant Program will provide grants of up to $3,000 for lawyers who perform legal services for central Indiana families in need of legal help during this time.

The foundation has partnered with the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society, Indiana Legal Services and the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence to assist Hoosiers who need legal assistance with landlord-tenant, unemployment and family law issues, but who are unable to afford a lawyer.

These individuals are particularly vulnerable right now and we hope to help both the families in need and our members by paying our members to assist them,” said Lee Christie, president of the Indianapolis Bar Foundation.

Attorneys interested in participating in the program who have been admitted to the Indiana bar since Jan.1, 2008, must apply for the crisis empowerment grant. Those accepted will be connected with individuals seeking legal services and receive an hourly rate for their work, as long as they are performing work for a client referred to them by one of the partnering agencies through the program.

The hourly rate is set at $100 with a maximum of five hours per client, Christie said.

Through this grant program, we hope to provide income to our members who are struggling with earning income during the crisis,” he said. “…We know that many of our solo and small firm members are having difficulty during this crisis and we want to assist them by providing clients in need who have legal problems.”

There are no operational costs for the foundation to administer the program, Christie said, and every dollar donated will go directly into the program. Donations for the program will be accepted by the foundation online.

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