Mary, a single mom and disabled veteran, always had the dream of home ownership. But the excitement of receiving approval for her first mortgage was quickly squashed when she learned she could not close on her loan, as she was still legally married to a man she had been separated from for three years. Although the separation was amicable, and even though they both had good jobs, neither Mary nor her estranged husband had the $2,500 to put down as a retainer to hire an attorney, and divorce had never seemed urgent. Now it was, with Mary’s dream of a home for her and her children hanging in the balance.
Mary’s story is all too common. As Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht of the Supreme Court of Texas stated in his presentation to the 84th Texas Legislature:
“Access to justice is a struggle, not only for the poor, but for many in the middle class and small businesses who need the legal system but find the costs prohibitive and are forced to try to represent themselves. There are lawyers looking for work, and clients who need lawyers, but the cost of legal services keeps them apart. This has been called ‘the justice gap,’ and it’s growing.”
That’s why we formed Justice For Me Inc., a new credit union service organization headquartered in the Austin-San Antonio corridor. Justice For Me bridges the “justice gap” that Mary and millions of other Americans fall into by working with attorneys and their clients to facilitate manageable payment plans and eliminate the need for large, upfront retainers.
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