CLE Programs

VLP to Launch New Program to Help Fight Consumer Debt

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County (VLP) is excited to announce that we are creating a new program to help people who are being sued for debt, whose wages are being garnished, or whose bank accounts are frozen. Every year, over 5,000 consumer debt cases are filed in Syracuse City Court, and many hundreds more are filed in other courts throughout the county. Nearly all of these cases go forward on default. Most unrepresented litigants do not know how to challenge the debt or file an answer, even when they do not actually owe the money. In our Legal Needs Survey we found that 42% of respondents who had a legal problem had consumer debt and financial issues.  We want to provide those individuals help!

 VLP’s new CLARO clinic will provide a new opportunity for help and hope for unrepresented respondents in consumer debt cases.  The CLARO Clinic, which is based on successful models in NYC and Buffalo, will provide free advice and counsel and assistance with drafting forms such as an answer, discovery, motion to dismiss, order to show cause to vacate and dismiss, and more.  Our program’s goal is to help people reduce debt so that they can start down a pathway out of poverty. This program is being created in collaboration with the City of Syracuse’s new Financial Empowerment Centers. Click HERE for more information.

We are seeking pro bono volunteers (lawyers, paralegals, and law students) to staff the new CLARO clinics. You do not need to have experience with consumer debt cases.

We are providing a comprehensive free training:

Wednesday, September 25th 
12:00 PM - 4:30 PM 

  • The Consumer Debt Collection Process
  • Litigation Abuses
  • The CLARO Clinic model
  • Ethics of Limited Scope Representation
  • Non-litigation Assistance to Debtors
  • VLP’s Form Drafting Program
  • Common Legal Issues including:
    • Answers
    • Common Counter-Claims
    • Motions to Vacate Default Judgments
    • And more!

The training will provide 5 CLE credits (0.5 ethics, 4.5 skills).

This training is available only to VLP volunteers or those interested in becoming a volunteer. We encourage current Talk to a Lawyer volunteers to attend as well, since consumer law issues are so common in those clinics.

We hope that you will join us in kicking off this new program and expanding our work to help create economic opportunity for all in Central New York!

For registration, please EMAIL Carrie Chantler or call (315) 579-2578.