Batavia church offers low-cost legal aid clinic

Clients do not have to be church members or Batavia residents

The Congregational Church of Batavia’s Legal Aid Clinic has been open since May 2021, offering low cost legal advice out of the church at 21 S. Batavia Ave.

The Congregational Church of Batavia’s Legal Aid Clinic first opened in May 2021 and has served nearly 100 clients out of the church at 21 S. Batavia Ave.

The clinic is open from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. For $30, the clinic provides clients with a 45-minute consultation with an attorney who offers advice and details steps to take to remediate their problems.

Client Intake Specialist Jean Stone has been volunteering with the program since its inception and is looking to spread the word so that more community members all over Kane County take advantage of the opportunity the clinic offers.

The Congregational Church of Batavia is located at 21 S. Batavia Ave.

Clients do not have to be religious, church members or Batavia residents to seek a consultation. The clinic serves single parents, senior citizens, veterans and anyone who may be struggling with legal issues.

The church started the clinic with the help of Administer Justice, a nonprofit organization based in Elgin that partners with churches to provide low-cost legal aid. It is staffed entirely by volunteers who are members of the church. Each volunteer receives specialized training from Administer Justice.

“The reason we got involved in this is we saw it as a way to help people who had been disadvantaged, either by their income or their location.”

—  Jean Stone, Client Intake Specialist

The clinic is a nonprofit organization and does not accept any income. The $30 fees go to Administer Justice to offset operational costs and the clinic’s expenses.

The program consists of about 10 volunteers and three attorneys who rotate schedules so that two are on-site at the clinic every month.

Attorneys at the clinic can provide consultation for basically any kind of legal problem and have helped people battling eviction, divorce, custody and child support, credit and debt problems, estate planning, immigration, domestic violence and more. They provide clients with concrete steps to take in order to resolve their problems.

A client advocate also sits in on the consultation and reviews meeting details with clients afterward to make sure they understand and may direct them to other services. One month after each meeting, a follow-up advocate reaches out to the client to see if their problem has been handled or if they need additional help.

Many of the clients are given the support and direction to handle their problems on their own without hiring an attorney and about only 20% end up needing to hire legal counsel, Stone said.

The clinic was created as a way for the church to expand its outreach efforts and help disadvantaged people in a new way, Stone said.

“Our church has a very strong interest in alleviating sources of institutional suffering,” she said. “We have an outreach team that provides things like food and donations to help with immediate problems, but our justice team tackles the more long-term issues.”

Stone said being a volunteer at the clinic is very rewarding and the best part is seeing the relief on the faces and hearing the relief in the voices of the clients when they leave the clinic with hope they didn’t have when they walked in.

“The reason we got involved in this is we saw it as a way to help people who had been disadvantaged, either by their income or their location,” she said. ″At last they have hope that whatever their legal problem is can be solved and a lot of them come in feeling pretty hopeless.”

Appointments must be made in advance. For more information or schedule an appointment, visit www.administerjustice.org. or call 855-818-4554.