Note, if this will be your first time volunteering at a limited-scope legal clinic, we ask that you review the substantive training materials on VLJ's Volunteer Resources site, prior to the clinic date. 

You MUST email if you are interested in attending, so we can confirm with you that there are still in fact volunteer spots open. PLEASE DO NOT JUST SHOW UP. Thank you! 

Divorce Program 

All clinics take place in downtown Newark, NJ from 2 - 5pm

  • 2 spot(s) Pro Se Litigant - Post-Filing Clinic - January 3

  • 3 spot(s) Pro Se Litigant - Filing Clinic - January 17

Email jchavez@vljnj.org, with interest. 

Consumer Law Program 

All clinics take place in downtown Newark, NJ from 9:30am - 12:30pm

  • 2 spot(s) Consumer Clinic - December 18

  • 3 spot(s) Consumer Clinic - January 15

  • 1 spot(s) Consumer Clinic - February 5

  • 3 spot(s) Consumer Clinic - February 19

  • 1 spot(s) Consumer Clinic - March 5

  • 3 spot(s) Consumer Clinic - March 19

Email ebalan@vljnj.org, with interest. 



Seeking representation at mediation/due process hearing, to be scheduled for 12/27 or 12/28.

GN, age 11, is diagnosed with Autism, Epilepsy, Klippel-Trenuany Weber Syndrome, learning disorders, sensory disorders, communication disorders, and anxiety. In November, without informing the parents, the district placed GN in a harness during his bus rides to and from out-of-district school. The district failed to provide the parents with the incident reports that allegedly triggered the use of a harness during bus rides. The mother provided three letters from GN's treating doctors stating that given GN's medical condition, a harness should not be used because it is detrimental to his health and further increases his anxiety and his self-injurious behaviors. Moreover, his neurologist concluded that given GN's rare genetic condition, GN developed left-sided hematoma due to the use of the harness during school bus rides. The parents filed a petition for due process in order for the district to immediately stop the use of a harness during bus rides. The parents are seeking representation at mediation/due process hearing.

To review, email tbermudez@vljnj.org



Consultation, and possible representation through name change application

LJ is a domestic violence victim of her first husband, with whom she has two children. She was awarded sole custody of those children as a result of the domestic violence, and has since remarried and expanded her family. She has learned that her ex-husband is currently incarcerated for crimes involving sex with a minor and is concerned for the safety and welfare of her children once he is released. Her current husband is the only real father her first two children have known, and she is seeking to change their last name for their well-being.

To review, email tbermudez@vljnj.org



Representation at mediation to secure an appropriate IEP and appropriate placement.

IA, age 5, is diagnosed with Autism and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. IA’s parent, MS, reports IA was originally placed in a generic preschool disabilities class and after the last IEP, placed in a learning and language disabilities class. MS believe IA should be in an ABA-based class. In October 2019, he was referred to an out-of-district placement due to his behavior. MS states that he was referred out-of-district only because the District does not have room in its own ABA classes. MS disagreed with that decision and filed a request for mediation on November 5th to challenge the out-of-district placement and invoke “stay put,” but the District disregarded IA’s right to stay put and excluded him from school beginning on November 12. Since the parent had no other choice, she agreed to home instruction, which commenced three weeks later. MS is seeking representation at mediation to secure an appropriate IEP and placement.

To review, email tbermudez@vljnj.org


Essex County - Landlord/Tenant

Litigation (Marini Hearing), possible negotiation with landlord’s counsel

IO has lived in a two family house for the past six months. When she moved in, she discovered exposed electrical wires, infestations, leaks in the ceiling, cracks and holes in the floors. Code enforcement issued a report in September 2018 documenting multiple issues with the property that need to be addressed. IO began withholding rent in October 2018, and her landlord sued to evict her. At the court date for the eviction, IO deposited the rent due into court. The court gave a new hearing date of December 18, 2018. 

To review, email msmith@vljnj.org




TJ experienced some health issues that caused her financial hardship. TJ relied on Temporary Rental Assistance to pay rent for a few months and ended up falling behind on her rent. TJ’s landlord sued to evict her. TJ was able to secure rent from a charitable agency, however, her landlord failed to cash the check from the agency. According to TJ, at a prior hearing, a judge instructed the landlord to return the uncashed check so that the agency could issue a new one. TJ also says that the lack of heat last winter is also being raised as a Marini issue.

To review, email msmith@vljnj.org



Representation at the mediation and due process hearing with the goal of secure a private out-of-district placement.

MG, age 9, is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Mixed Receptive/Expressive Language Disorder, Lack of Coordination and Sensory Integration Disorder. MG is placed in a 3rd grade self-contained special education classroom that purports to provide instruction through ABA. However, the district does not employ a full time BCBA to oversee the ABA classroom and relies on a school psychologist to do so. MG is a nonverbal student and has made no progress in his current placement and is not meeting his IEP goals and his behavior has worsened. Pursuant to a recently completed BCBA, MG’s current in-district program is “inappropriate, insufficient and ineffective in meeting his significant educational needs.” The recommended program for MD is an intensive, full day ABA program in which he will receive intensive instruction provided in a full day ABA program under the full-time supervision of a BCBA.  MG’s parent, BG, filed a due process petition stating, among other things, that the district’s educational program failed to confer meaningful educational benefit upon MG by failing to provide him with adequate ABA instruction overseen by a BCBA, by not appropriately addressing his behavioral needs by not conducting a timely Functional Behavioral Assessment and by not providing an appropriate Behavioral Intervention Plan. BG is seeking representation at the mediation and due process hearing with the goal of securing an out-of-district placement.

To review, email tbermudez@vljnj.org



Assistance filing motion to negotiate or waive arrears

LR is a veteran seeking assistance with a child support arrears issue. LR is the father of five grown children, for whom he paid child support for several years. However, client has a large amount due in child support arrears and is now only receiving SSI payments. Due to the amount owed, he is not able to obtain a passport, and as he is on a fixed income, he will never be able to pay back the arrears. LR seeks assistance negotiating or waiving the arrears.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



Representation in filing motion

SM is a veteran seeking assistance with a child support modification matter. Client’s ex-partner moved out of state without telling SM that she was pregnant. SM only recently became aware of his child and had paternity confirmed by DNA test. The child’s mother has become incapable of caring for the child, who is now staying with another relative. Client has been ordered to pay child support to the custodial relative but has fallen behind on payments due to recent unemployment. Client seeks assistance adjusting the support order and dealing with arrears.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



LD seeks an attorney to review her case and file a discharge upgrade application.

LD served in the Navy for nearly three years from 2000-2003.  LD was the victim of a sexual assault during her first year of service.  Although initial performance reports indicate LD had “tremendous potential,” her performance declined after her assault and she was ultimately discharged under conditions other than honorable after testing positive for drug use.  LD previously applied to the NDRB for an upgrade.  She argued that her drug use was related to PTSD resulting from her assault.  The board denied her application, relying heavily on a lack of evidence of the assault as the basis of denial.  LD seeks assistance with a discharge upgrade application in hopes that she will be able to access benefits from the VA and put this experience behind her.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org.    



Representation at mediation with the goal of securing  an out-of-district placement in a therapeutic day school addressing psychiatric, behavioral, developmental, and academic needs of the child.

JD, age 7, is diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, global developmental delays, behavior challenges and ADHD. He is receiving special education under categorization of “moderate intellectual disability” in a multiply disabled classroom. The district refuses to conduct an FBA and refuses to consider revising the IEP despite persistent, significant behavioral issues. The district is refusing to assess communication-related needs such as the need for assistive/augmentative technology. Information from JD’s recent partial hospitalization supports the claim for an intensive, psychiatrically-informed placement. JD’s mother filed for due process in October seeking appropriate therapeutic out-of-district placement and home instruction in the meantime. Mediation was scheduled for December 3rd, parent advised not to sign anything she did not agree with.

To review, email tbermudez@vljnj.org



Representation at due process hearing to address bullying issue, obtain appropriate IEP, and possible comp. ed.

IM is an 11-year-old 6th-grader who is originally from Albania and is eligible for special education services under the category of Specific Learning Disability. During the 2016-17 school year, IM’s peers called her a lesbian, purposely mispronounced her last name, left notes on her desk saying they hated her, and posted mean messages on social media. IM’s mother, KP, reported the bullying and the district found it to violate its HIB policy. KP asked the school not to place IM in classes with two of the girls who had bullied her, but at the beginning of the 2017-18 school year, IM was placed in a class with one of them. KP complained but was told that it was too expensive to move either girl. IM has experienced anxiety and a loss of self-esteem and does not want to go to school as the other girl continues to provoke her. KP filed for due process; mediation and a settlement conference have been unsuccessful. KP is seeking representation at an IEP meeting scheduled for November 1, 2018 to ensure appropriate IEP development for the 2018-2019 school year, and also representation at a due process hearing (not yet scheduled) to request an out-of-district placement for IM for 2018-19 (as the district only has one middle school) or at least to request that IM and the other girl are in separate classes; and compensatory education if warranted.

To review, email tbermudez@vljnj.org



Advice only

DD, a veteran, needs further assistance determining eligibility for expungement. Volunteer attorney would obtain disposition letters from the court and assess client’s eligibility for expungement. If client appears eligible, client or attorney would obtain proof of fines paid and time served for the convictions on his record and draft the petition for expungement.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



Representation in divorce case

JJ is a twenty-two year old who was committed to the Juvenile Justice Commission back in 2013. It should be noted that JJ is blind.  During his commitment at the Training School for Boys he got married.  He was just paroled and moved to another state through the interstate compact.  He would like to file for divorce.  He was married in Middlesex County at the Training School.  His current wife resides in Passaic County, where he would like to file.  He does not see any reason why the divorce would be contested, as they have no children or property together.  He is willing to come up to NJ for the proceedings.

To review, email jchavez@vljnj.org



Consultation to discuss legal rights regarding potential abuse of son.

DD is a 5-year-old Kindergartner who has been diagnosed with ADHD and a speech delay. In September 2018, he came home with a bruise in the shape of a handprint on his arm, as well as some bruises on his legs. Initially, DD refused to tell his parents, NS and BD, what happened, but he ultimately explained that he had hit another child on the playground, and his teacher had grabbed him in a rough manner. NS and BD reported the incident to the police, who are investigating. A few days later, DD reported that his teacher had called him “stupid” and an “asshole” and hit him. DD has been begging not to go to school anymore and having nightmares. NS and BD are seeking a consultation with an attorney about what her legal rights are.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Advice only

DD needs further assistance determining eligibility for expungement. Volunteer attorney would obtain disposition letters from the court and assess client’s eligibility for expungement. If client appears eligible, client or attorney would obtain proof of fines paid and time served for the convictions on his record and draft the petition for expungement.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



Limited assistance navigating how to lift driver’s license suspension.

TW attended court and understood that Irvington Municipal Court had dismissed her outstanding parking tickets in the amount of $775 (and she believes she has proof to that effect), but the MVC says they will not lift the suspension because the tickets are still outstanding. She believes debt collectors are also seeking payment of $775. VLJ will request the MVC records for volunteer attorney’s review. Volunteer attorney would make phone calls to the MVC and Irvington Municipal Court to reconcile this discrepancy. There may have been a clerical error or the client may have misunderstood the judge’s order. If the latter, volunteer attorney would guide her in appropriate next steps to resolve suspension.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



Assistance in obtaining new Section 8 voucher; possible defense against eviction proceeding (not yet filed)

SR, a single mother of four young children, has lived in an apartment for 2 years that she obtained through a Section 8 voucher, and has always paid her portion of the rent on time. In May, SR got into a fight with another tenant in the building, and the other tenant filed criminal charges. One of SR’s conditions of release was that she would not be able to return to the apartment building pending the outcome of her case. In July, SR was notified that Section 8 had ceased paying the remainder of her rent because she has been out of her apartment for more than 30 days. She was told that she could appeal the determination by requesting a hearing, but has not received any written notification with more information. In August, SR was told by her management company that, as a result of Section 8 having stopped paying the rent, SR will soon be evicted (though an eviction proceeding has not yet been initiated). SR’s goal is to find a new apartment with a new Section 8 voucher, and to avoid having an eviction on her record.

To review, email tbermudez@vljnj.org



Assistance in relocating out of state with court’s consent; reinstating Section 8 voucher or securing new one; possible name change for client’s son

TC, a single mother of three young children, is a victim of domestic violence, both from her ex-husband as well as many of his family members. She fears for her safety and is seeking to move out of the state. TC needs help obtaining the court’s consent to relocate. TC managed to get a Section 8 voucher in Pennsylvania, but it expired in April and she was unable to get an extension. She is seeking assistance in getting her Pennsylvania voucher reinstated or else obtaining a voucher in another state. In addition, because TC’s son has her ex-husband’s last name, she is concerned that her ex-husband might be able to find him if she does move out of state. TC is also seeking a name change for her son if possible.