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

  • 3 spot(s) Pro Se Litigant - Filing Clinic - February 21

  • 4 spot(s) Pro Se Litigant - Filing Clinic - March 21

Email jchavez@vljnj.org, with interest. 

Consumer Law Program 

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

  • 3 spot(s) Consumer Clinic - February 19

  • 1 spot(s) Consumer Clinic - March 5

  • 3 spot(s) Consumer Clinic - March 19

Email jchavez@vljnj.org, with interest. 



Full representation in filing expungement petition

MB was offered a job as a teacher in a NJ public school, but the NJ Board of Education would not complete the hiring process due to his criminal record. MB has nine arrests, most of which are dismissals; he needs assistance obtaining some dispositions and filing expungement petition.

To review, email msmith@vljnj.org



Advice and potential full representation

LD is an 80-year-old, disabled, veteran client seeking assistance with a potential fraud matter. LD was awarded a significant settlement for a law suit several years ago. He was represented by a private attorney, who has since withheld the settlement award. LD filed a complaint with the NJ Bar Association, but has yet to receive any of the settlement money or any notice from the Bar on the status of his case. He needs a volunteer to assist him in inquiring about the status of his complaint and potentially representing him in an action to return the settlement award.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org



Parent is Spanish-speaking. Client is seeking representation at mediation.

J.S.R. is a 7-year-old boy who is profoundly impacted by autism. J.S.R. has significant feeding problems that are affecting his health, and he is not toilet-trained. J.S.R. recently began eating dirt and inserting a toy into his anus then placing it in his mouth. His mother asked at an IEP meeting in April 2018 that he be placed at a different out of district school. The participants at that meeting agreed and proposed to send J.S.R.'s records to four other schools. His usual case manager was not present at that meeting, but the substitute sent by the district agreed with the other IEP team members about looking for another out of district placement. At the request of the school district, J.S.R.'s mother went to meet with his usual case manager in April 2018 expecting to sign authorizations to send J.S.R.'s records to the four schools discussed at the IEP meeting. Although the case manager knew that the mother only spoke very limited English, the school district did not obtain an interpreter. The little the parent understood was that because J.S.R. receives “some services” at home through the Children's System of Care (PerformCare, Care Management Organization "CMO") that the district is not obligated to offer home programming. It is not clear what services CMO provides and if the CMO has, or is currently, providing ABA therapeutic services in the home. After this meeting, the parent received a copy of an IEP from the district proposing to keep J.S.R. at the Center for Lifelong Learning. It does not appear that the district offered to translate that IEP in any way. The parent filed a petition for mediation-only. In addition to making a request for her son to be transferred to a different school that provides a more intensive ABA program, she requested that the school district provide a home component of ABA services. The parent is seeking representation at the mediation.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



Prepare and file petition

Veteran, TB, seeks assistance with a complex expungement issue. TB has a conviction that was discharged after pre-trial intervention, an indictable offense, and a dismissal that are all eligible for expungement under the new October 2018 NJ expungement law. He also has eight felony convictions on his criminal record that do not belong to him, which has been confirmed by the Public Defender. Client requires assistance in filing his expungement petition and removing the erroneous felony convictions off of his record.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



Prepare and file petition

Veteran, AW, seeks assistance with criminal expungement. AW has one indictable offense conviction that has recently become eligible for expungement. He requires representation in filing his petition.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



Prepare and file petition

GD, a veteran, seeks assistance with criminal expungement and document collection. GD appears eligible for expungement, but needs assistance obtaining documentation on his sealed juvenile record in New York. Once it is determined that he is indeed eligible, GD will require assistance filing his petition.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



Prepare and file petition

Veteran, SR, client seeks assistance with criminal expungement. SR recently became eligible for expungement under the October 2018 New Jersey law change and requires representation in filing his petition.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



Representation at the IEP meeting (2/13/2019) and possible representation at a Due Process hearing if the relief sought at the IEP meeting cannot be obtained. Spanish speaking client.

MT is in a 3rd grade classroom, where he is receiving pull-out resource instruction in reading and writing. MT is followed by a neurodevelopmental pediatrician who diagnosed him with dyslexia and recommended a multi-sensory instruction program. MT was reevaluated recently and the reports confirm that he has severe discrepancy between his intellectual abilities, particularly his verbal comprehension, and his achievement that is characteristic of dyslexia. The reports also show that he is not making progress. Although his IEP lists in the modification section that MT should be provided with a multi-sensory approach, he is not receiving research-based instruction. The parent is seeking representation at the February 13th IEP meeting with the goal of requesting independent evaluations at the district's expense and negotiation with the district for a private out-of-district placement. The parent is Spanish-speaking only.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



Representation at Due Process hearing; originally scheduled for January 7th, but parent requested adjournment to secure pro bono representation

MT is a 17-year-old special education student who is diagnosed with autism, CAPD, dyscalculia, dyslexia, and dysgraphia. He is classified under the category of autism. When MT entered High School for the 9th grade in the 2017-2018 school year, he was placed in a self-contained LLD classroom. However, the classroom that MT was in was not appropriate for him. MT had filed for due process in the spring of 2018 and ultimately was able to enter into a settlement agreement that resulted in MT being placed in pull-out resource for Language Arts and Math, and inclusion and general education rooms for the rest of his classes. While the placement issue was resolved, unfortunately, the issue of proper supports and accommodations for MT was not resolved. Parent attended a facilitated IEP meeting in October 2018 at which the facilitator assisted in coming up with supports and accommodations that would help MT but when the school district drafted the final proposed IEP, it did not contain any of the suggested supports and accommodations. The parent filed for due process in order to obtain appropriate supports and accommodations for MT in his classes. She had a hearing date scheduled for January 8, 2019, but requested an adjournment to allow her more time to find a pro bono attorney.

To review, email ebalan@vljnj.org



Essex County - SSI/SSD Appeal

Litigation for SSI/SSD appeal for client based in Newark

DA is a single mother of two small children. She has experienced pain which has prevented her from working. She applied for SSI disability, but has been denied. DA tried to appeal on her own and was also denied. She has new medical evidence and is now trying her second appeal. Client will have a hearing, but the date has not been set yet.

To review, email msmith@vljnj.org.

BG 18E-1001436


Parents are seeking legal assistance in filing for due process or representation through a plenary hearing if necessary.

EG, age 16, is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Disruptive Mood Dysregulation, Encephalopathy-unspecified and Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), in addition to sensory dysfunction and visual tracking challenges. Despite the aforementioned diagnoses and his disruptive behavior in public school and two hospitalizations, he had never been referred to a Child Study Team. Following his hospitalization, his parents enrolled him in a residential placement out of state, where he stayed from May 2017 until September 2017. In early September 2017, EG’s parents enrolled him back in District and requested that he be referred to the Child Study Team. In October 2017, EG’s parents submitted a 10-day notice to the District informing the District that they would be enrolling EG in a therapeutic residential school, which he had previously attended, with expertise in 14-18 year-old boys on the autism spectrum, and parents again requested that EG be referred to the Child Study Team for special education and related services. The initial response from the District was voicemails received by parents regarding withdrawal from the district form to be completed by parents and a phone call from the school Principal inquiring about the length of EG’s stay at the therapeutic residential school. In February 2018, parent retained counsel who requested that an IEP meeting be scheduled as soon as possible. In April 2018, an Initial Identification/Evaluation Planning Meeting was held and parents consented to in-District evaluations. Parents also submitted to the District EG’s neurodevelopmental evaluation and EG’s school records from the residential placement. The psychoeducational report confirmed EG’s social and emotional challenges, finding clinically significant and at risk ratings for several categories, such as behaviors that are impulsive, disruptive and uncontrolled. In June 2018, District notified the parents that EG would be considered a 9th grader on July 1st at a Regional High School and the matter needed to be transferred to that District. A determination meeting with the Regional High School was held in July 2019. Shockingly, the District did not find EG eligible for special education and related services. The District asserted that EG could be served in district in general education. EG continues to be enrolled in a therapeutic placement, but his parents have depleted all of their resources. Parents are seeking legal assistance in filing for due process or representation through a plenary hearing if necessary.

To review, email ebalan@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 ebalan@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 ebalan@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



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.    




Negotiation/representation in lawsuit regarding contractor dispute

VL hired a contractor to demolish and rebuild her Sandy-damaged home. After the contractor demolished the home, he demanded additional payment, outside the scope of their agreement, in order to proceed with the rebuild. VL has paid the contractor $60k so far, but the contractor has failed to furnish invoices that total that amount. The contractor has not been to her house since the demolition in January 2016. Meanwhile, the contractor damaged VL’s neighbor’s oil tank while attempting to remove it, causing a spill. The DEP held VL liable for cleaning up the oil, which depleted her savings. She is seeking an attorney to help her recover funds from the contractor so she can finally move forward with rebuilding.

To review, email donuschak@vljnj.org