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Free legal clinic opens

Those looking for legal advice, but feel that they can’t afford to hire an attorney, a new option has opened up in LaGrange County with New Life Legal Talk.

The free legal clinic is based at the New Life Fellowship Church on SR 5 south of Shipshewana and saw its first client this past Tuesday.

The clinic is the work of Wolcottville native Karch Bachman, who has been working to open the clinic as part of his senior community service project at Culver Academy. Seniors at the school are required to do at least 30 hours of community volunteer work and, as of the opening of the clinic, Bachman had racked up 50 hours.

The idea started by listening to his dad, LaGrange attorney Kurt Bachman, talk about those who can’t get the help that they need. “I wanted to create a program that can help them,” Karch Bachman said.

Bachman worked to set up the protocol for the clinic, the location, and to line up lawyers to volunteer their time.

The clinic will be open on the second Tuesday of the month, with September 9 the next opportunity for county residents to visit. The clinic is open from 5-9 p.m. at New Life Fellowship, 2755 South SR 5. The clinic entrance is on the south side of the building.

Clients will be greeted by a staff member from the church or the New Life Legal Talk team. They will be asked to fill out an intake form and the staff will determine eligibility before meeting with one of the volunteer attorneys. Bachman said they plan to have two or three attorneys available at each session, increasing that number if the need arises.

To be eligible, a client must be a resident of LaGrange County and show proof of residency. They must also be over 18 years old. Annual gross income must be $25,000 or less for a single adult or $35,000 or less for married or co-habitating adults.

The staff will determine which attorney can best assist with the specific issue the client has. Attorneys will not be able to discuss subjects relating to criminal law, immigration or patent law.

Clients will not be charged for any information they receive as part of the New Life Legal Talk clinic. The attorneys will not be able to provide any legal service beyond the advice he or she gives during the meeting, which will last a maximum of 30 minutes. Everything told to the attorney will be kept confidential.

It was noted that the attorneys will not be able to draw up any documents for clients as part of the free clinic.

Clients can attend the New Life Legal Talk up to two times.

Clients should bring a photo ID, proof of income, and any documents relevant to the issue they want to discuss.