We help eligible low-income people and senior citizens
with civil legal problems.

Need more information about Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma?
Visit our website at
http://www.legalaidok.org/

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pro Bono Celebration Week

This is National Pro Bono Celebration week and we're celebrating!


If you're a lawyer who participates in pro bono activites, thank you!
Check here to find a celebration near you:
http://www.probono.net/celebrateprobono/event-map/

In Tulsa, the Tulsa County Bar Association is Celebrating with a reception for all volunteer lawyers on Thursday, October 29th from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Contact the TCBA at 584-5243, ext 1223, for details.

In Oklahoma City, the OCU Law School is having a luncheon, Friday, October 30th, 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. to honor the Dean's Summer Fellowship recipients.

What are we celebrating? Glad you asked: It's Access to the Courts, Access to Justice or simply a level playing field. In criminal law matters, you have a 'right' to a lawyer if you can't afford one. In any civil law matter that doesn't involve loss of a liberty or 'right' you pay for your own legal representation. That sounds right, doesn't it? Sounds right, but practically it can be disastrous for families and community stability.

Consider a young mother with a severely ill child. The asthma symptoms the child suffers costs the mother time off from her job. Being an hourly employee, monthly income is lost for every doctor visit or severe bout with asthma. Prescriptions, doctor co-pays all add up. After 6 months of this, a monthly income that is sufficient to keep the family going dwindles. A few times behind in the rent and there is an eviction notice. Mother's doctor has asked about the family home environment. Does anyone smoke in the house, have precautions been taken to remove dust, mold, mildew?

As it turns out the mother has asked her landlord many times to repair a leak in the bathroom, a moldy wall from a long ago repaired room leak. A bit of ground work and testing... it's the mold. Can she pay for a lawyer to go to the eviction hearing with her? Can she pay a lawyer to even talk to the landlord on her behalf and explain the law and how it applies to her circumstances? Not if she can't pay the rent... and that's even if she can find a lawyer who would even help her.

She turns to community legal resources. Yes there are a few, but in the best of times free legal services are stretched thin. Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma and many other civil legal providers to low-income Oklahomans work hard to help as many as possible. We're just not able to help everyone. To stretch our impact we turn to private lawyers to step in. Sometimes it's a small matter of information, advice or just giving some direction. Sometimes it's a big case and very time consuming. Either way it means the world to someone!

Thank you to the many, many lawyers who volunteer countless hours taken from private practice and family time, to work with those who can least afford the help. It's not glamorous work. But it's so fulfilling to just one person or family, to prevent homelessness, family violence or help someone get back to work with a reinstated driver’s license or just to provide information to someone who is unable to get it anywhere else.

Ask your lawyer how much pro bono work he or she does every year. You'll be surprised and we should all say THANKS!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Phishing Emails Increase!

Reports continue to increase in the number of "phishing" emails! 

These emails attempt to obtain your personal or account information by pretending to be a reputable company.  Maybe even a company with whom you do business or have an account, such as an internet service provider or a bank.  These emails ask you to reply by verifying your account information.  They look very convincing with fancy formatting and the company logo.  Don't be tricked!

As general policy, reputable companies do not ask members to supply or verify Member ID or password information in email communications.  Yes, if you give a business your email address, you're going to get email from them.  BUT, this is where you pay close attention.... those occasional email messages requesting updates to personal or payment information will always direct you to a secure web site.  These sites require you to login in to access your account information and make changes. (Secure sites are designated by an 's' after the "http" in the address bar and a lock icon at the bottom of the screen.) NEVER reply to an email message with this information or click on a link inside a suspicious email. 

What to do?
  • Get out your bill and look at the web site address provided in any billing statements from the company
  • Check out the request online by logging into a secure website (https)
  • Type the URL in your navigation bar - never click on links provided in emails
  • Call the company directly
  • Check out potential scams online or call the Better Business Bureau in your area
  • Do NOT reply to the email and do NOT provide your account information or password

If you have any doubt of a message's authenticity:
  • File a complaint with the governments Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov
  • Contact the company involved in the scam by forwarding the email.  If you received a phishing email about Citibank, you should forward it to Citibank.
  • Fight Identity Theft has email addresses for reporting
    http://www.fightidentitytheft.com/phishing-scams.html 

More information on Identity Theft can be found on
http://www.oklaw.org/

or at this link:
http://www.oklaw.org/link.cfm?2446


We hope you find this information helpful.
Thank you for being a part of our online community!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lowering interest rates on credit cards

So, I'm working late one night and my office phone rings.  A recorded message comes on..."We have important information about your credit cards.   To speak to a representative about lowering your interest rates, please hold the line."  Okay, I'll bite... A very nice young man quickly came on the line to tell me that he could help me lower the interest rates on my credit cards.  No conversation, no request for information... yet, that is... Simply, we're here to help!

Needless to say, it was purely a fishing expedition from a company who had no idea even IF I had credit cards.  They were willing to negotiate on my behalf with ANY OR ALL of my credit card issuers to lower my interest rates.  I've no idea if this company was legitmate or not.  Personal opinions about tactics aside, please, please, please NEVER give any information out to anyone who CALLS OR EMAILS you about your credit.  Or any personal information, for that matter.

Our parents teach us to be polite.  Yes, be polite.  Just please do NOT give any information out over the phone or respond to any emails requesting financial information. 



Check our free legal information web site  http://www.oklaw.org/ Consumer Topic area, for information about identity theft, scams and other consumer law issues.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thank you Volunteer Lawyers!

One way Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma thanks its volunteer lawyers is by providing annual continuing legal education seminar... FREE!  (We have lots of other perks, just ask us!)
We provide free CLE in the Tulsa area each spring, in Oklahoma City every fall and in outlying counties in late fall.

The 13th Annual Family Practice Montage in Oklahoma City is October 7th at the Oklahoma Bar Center.  If you haven't pre-registered, call Cindy Goble today at 405-488-6823.  Materials are online in the Advocate Resource Center of our pro bono support web site:  http://www.probono.net/ok

The web site is for volunteer lawyers only and is password protected.  You must be a lawyer in good standing with the Oklahoma Bar Association and volunteering with an organization who routinely provides pro bono legal services to low-income people to qualify for a membership to the web site.  The site has all kinds of great practice information including automated documents for pro bono cases.

Learn more at http://www.probono.net/ok or call the Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma volunteer coordinator in your local area or statewide coordinators Cindy Goble (OKC office) at 405-488-6823 or Karen Langdon (Tulsa office) at 918-295-9422.

If you are looking for a lawyer, please contact the Legal Aid Services of Oklahooma Intake Hotline in your area at this link:  http://www.probono.net/link.cfm?13461

This web site DOES NOT provide referrals to free lawyers!