Consumer Defense Clinics: Building a Courthouse Clinic from the Ground Up

Webinar Date: 
June 8, 2017
Focus Area: 

More than two-thirds of litigants in civil debt collection cases in the U.S. go through the court process unrepresented. As a result, many unrepresented consumers do not know how to defend themselves and often receive judgments for debts that have viable defenses or counter-claims. The key to addressing this problem is collaboration between pro bono providers, the judiciary, and private consumer attorneys. This webinar will give pro bono providers a blueprint for creating a courthouse consumer defense clinic and show private consumer attorneys how volunteering at these clinics can help build their practices and keep them up to date on new trends and abuses in debt collection lawsuits.

What You Will Learn

•    How to build a courthouse clinic from the ground up
•    How to get buy-in from the judiciary, bar associations, and the private bar
•    What the best practices are for referrals of affirmative claims for both pro bono providers and consumer attorneys


Matt Brooks is an attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services and an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Mintz Levin and Fidelity Investments. His work focuses on consumer law issues, particularly consumer debt collection issues. Matt helps to run Greater Boston Legal Services’ Debt Collection Lawyer for the Day Program, which has served hundreds of clients in local Boston courts. 

Ellyn Riedl is a staff attorney with Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS), the oldest and largest pro bono organization in the state of Maryland. In her role as staff attorney, she oversees MVLS’ Foreclosure Prevention pro bono program, which connects low income clients facing foreclosure with pro bono foreclosure attorneys throughout the state. She also runs several ongoing legal clinics, including the MVLS Consumer Protection Project clinic, which gives unrepresented consumers brief legal advice on debt collection cases, including landlord/tenant, debt buyer, bail bond, and original creditor matters. Ms. Riedl graduated with honors from University of Baltimore School of Law in 2012. Prior to joining MVLS, Ms. Riedl was a judicial law clerk for the Hon. Charles J. Peters in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City and then worked for a private firm near Washington D.C. practicing estates and trusts. 


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