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VLSP Announces New Debt Defense and Education Clinic
Attorneys and law students needed to staff weeknight clinics

January 9, 2009 -- San Francisco -- The National Consumer Law Center reports that nearly all American households behind on their bills “were current until they faced a financial catastrophe” such as unemployment or illness. In addition, the current economic downturn disproportionately affects low-income individuals and families who are often targets of predatory behavior by credit card companies.
In the past two years, VLSP’s Consumer Project’s clinics have seen a 96 percent increase in the number of calls regarding bankruptcy or collection defense matters. Many of the callers experience severe anxiety and isolation due to harassment by debt collectors. Such isolation exacerbates clients’ difficulty finding employment, accessing social services or staying connected with friends and family.

VLSP Consumer Project volunteers have had a tremendous impact on clients’ lives by helping them address their debt issues and stopping debt collection. Volunteer attorneys have been successful in helping clients identify affirmative defenses and defeat collection actions such as creditors suing the wrong individuals or suing cardholders on old debts that are outside the statute of limitations.

In response to the dramatically increased demand, VLSP will launch a new Debt Defense and Education Clinic in March 2009. At the clinic, clients will receive information about debtor/creditor rights and responsibilities. Additionally, clients will be able to get assistance with in pro per litigation matters. The types of litigation assistance may include helping clients draft answers, fee waivers, claims of exemption and responses to discovery.

Volunteer attorneys will also advise clients of their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and help clients write “cease and desist” letters to debt collectors. Clients will also have the opportunity to discuss bankruptcy with an experienced attorney.

The new clinic will be staffed by pro bono attorneys and law students who have undergone VLSP’s mandatory Debt Defense and Education Clinic training. An advanced training will be offered in April advising volunteers how to bring affirmative, fee-shifting claims under the FDCPA and other state and federal statutes.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved with VLSP’s Debt Defense and Education Clinic, please contact Megan Low at

The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of over 8,000 attorneys, law students and legal professionals in the Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF is one of the largest and most dynamic metropolitan bar associations in the U.S., with a long and distinguished record of community action, public service and service to the legal profession.

Questions about media relations, BASF issues currently in the news, San Francisco Attorney magazine, marketing and communications:

Ann Murphy, Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8792

For general communications inquiries:

Sayre Happich, Assistant Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8104