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

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Could you?

Did you know that 42.8 % of children in Oklahoma live in working families earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, less than $36,620/yr for a family of three?

For those who have not experienced poverty, please watch this
brief video that takes you through budgeting for a family of four living at the federal poverty level.

Better yet, take the challenge. Can you manage your resources living at the poverty level? http://www.playspent.org/

If you are low income and have a civil legal problem, call Legal Aid to see if we can help you.
Toll free 1-888-534-5243

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Payday Lending in Oklahoma

The Pew Charitable Trusts released a new series Payday Lending in America as a part of the Safe Small-Dollar Loans Research Project, Pew surveyed payday loan borrowers nationwide about their usage, as well as other options they would use if payday loans were unavailable. The findings present new data on borrowers and challenge the conventional wisdom surrounding payday loan usage. This research is intended to help policy makers consider the best ways to ensure a safe and transparent marketplace for small-dollar loans.

Good news:  Payday lending restrictions are not leading to increased online borrowing.
Bad news:  Most borrowers use payday loans to cover ordinary living expenses, not unexpected emergencies.

What's going on with Payday Lending in America?
Take a quiz on this page

Pew classifies Oklahoma as one of the nation's 28 "permissive" states which allow single-repayment loans with APR's of 391 % or higher.  Oklahoma is one of 4 "permissive" states with usage rates of 10% and above and Oklahoma has the highest usage rate for payday loans - 13%.  This loan usage rate was based on survey interviews which included storefront, online and other types of payday borrowing. 

Oklahoma's regulation of payday lenders began in 2003 with the Deferred Deposit Lending Act.  Loans are limited to $500, exclusive of the finance charge. 
You have the right to change your mind and not take the load no later that 5:00 p.m. of the next business day following the loan transaction, but
  • You must return the full amount of the principal the lender advanced you
  • and give written notice to the lender at the address on the agreement you signed or at the location you made the loan. 
Other provisions of the act:
  • Repayment periods can range from not less than 12 days to up to 45 days from the initial contract acceptance by the lender. 
  • Maximum finance charges are set out by statute. Here's a rate chart from the Oklahoma Department of Consumer Credit
  • You can be charged an additional fee for a bounced check. 
  • A borrower cannot 'renew' the loan by paying the finance charge or pay off a previous loan with the proceeds of a loan from another lender. 
  • A borrower can take out a consecutive loan but with restrictions.
  • You have a right to request an installment repayment after a third consecutive loan.  This comes with an additional processing fee and limits additional deferred loans.
  • The act requires certain types of lenders to be licensed annually, including licensing of each site at which these loans are made. 

Not all payday lenders are required to be licensed under this statute.  For example, banks, credit unions, pawn shops are regulated under the Oklahoma Department of Consumer Credit. Click on this link for a list as of July 27, 2012, of all currently regulated industry rosters, including Deferred Deposit Lenders in and outside Oklahoma

The Deferred Deposit Lending Act is enforced by the Oklahoma Department of Consumer Credit. 

If you believe a payday lender is violating the provisions of the act or has violated the law, you can:
  • Call the Department of Consumer Credit Hotline:  800-448-4904 or 405-521-3653
  • print the online form to mail in with copies of documents to support your complaint
  • fill out the form online and mail information or documents that support your complaint to the Department of Consumer Credit.
You can find more information about the law, licensed Deferred Deposit Lenders, and current enforcement actions online at http://www.ok.gov/okdocc/.

To get a list of debt and credit counseling agencies call 1-800-448-4904

go to http://www.oklaw.org

For more information about consumer and debt collection problems go to OKLaw.org  and click on Consumer and Debt

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Changes at Legal Aid

This has been a year of changes to Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, from new employees to our Application Line, new Spanish Line and new Sixty Plus Legal Aid Services Helpline (SPLASH)!
Here are some of the exciting changes in our organization just announced today!

Statewide Advocacy Team
Executive Director Michael Figgins established Legal Aid's Advocacy Team to help ensure the most effective deployment of services in a manner that is responsive to changing community needs.   The Advocacy Team will spearhead strategic litigation initiatives and community collaborations that address the underlying causes of poverty in Oklahoma.   The Advocacy Team leadership model represents an innovation in the delivery of civil legal aid services that has proven successful in legal services programs nationwide.        

Adrienne Watt,
Director of Advocacy
 Leading the team is Director of Advocacy Adrienne Watt, who graduated with distinction from Stanford University in 1999 and earned her Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center in 2004.  Adrienne has been a Staff Attorney for Legal Aid’s Homeless Legal Assistance Project and most recently served as the lead attorney for the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children, a joint endeavor of Legal Aid and the OU-Tulsa School of Community Medicine.

Richard Vreeland,
Family Advocacy Coordinator
Richard Vreeland, Family Law Advocacy Coordinator, is the Managing Attorney for Legal Aid’s Norman Law Office.  Vreeland received his J.D. from the University of Oklahoma, College of Law in 2006.  He currently serves as Chair of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Law Day Committee; Secretary of the Oklahoma County Law Library’s Board of Trustees; a member of the Oklahoma County Bar Association’s Board of Directors and recently served as President of the Oklahoma City Coalition for the Needy. 

Kimberly Moore-Waite,
Housing Advocacy Coordinator

Kimberly Moore-Waite, Housing Advocacy Coordinator, is a Staff
Attorney in the Tulsa Law Office.  Kimberly attended the University of Tulsa College of Law, graduating in 2001.  She serves as Secretary of Tulsa County Bar Association and as Chair of the Tulsa County Bar Foundation / Tulsa County Bar Association 2012 - 2013 Law Week Committee.

Polly Goodin,
Consumer Advocacy Coordinator

Polly Goodin, Consumer Advocacy Coordinator, is a Staff Attorney in the Ardmore Law Office.  Polly earned her J.D. from the University of Oklahoma, College of Law in 1990.  She has served as President of the Carter County Bar Association.  Polly currently serves on the Board of Directors for the 20th Judicial District Drug Court. 


Rick Goralewicz
Staff Attorney, Senior Law Project
Oklahoma City
 Richard Goralewicz, Staff Attorney for the Senior Law Project in the OKC Law Office, is a 1982 graduate of the Oklahoma City University School of Law. He has served as President of the Kingfisher County Bar Association and has served on the Legal Services Committee of the Oklahoma Bar Association, as well as multiple terms as Chair of the Appellate Practice Section. Rick is a frequent speaker at State, National and International programs on elder law, appellate law, and legal ethics.

Linda Lepak,
Managing Attorney
Application Line

Linda Lepak, is the Managing Attorney for the Statewide Application Line.  Linda earned her J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1981.  She serves on the Oklahoma Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee and has been President of the Rogers County Bar Association.  Linda currently serves on the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness and is a member of the Oklahoma Academy of Mediators and Arbitrators.

Mary Mosshammer,
Assistant Deputy Director

Mary Mosshammer is now the Assistant Deputy Director of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.  Mary was the Managing Attorney of the Hugo Law Office for 24 years.  Mary earned her J.D. from the Oklahoma City University School of Law in 1982 and is a member of the Choctaw, Pushmataha and Pittsburg County Bar Associations.  Ms. Mosshammer is a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and has received many academic and professional honors such as the US Air Force Association Leadership Award, Phi Beta Lambda Leadership Award, American Jurisprudence Award in Family Law, and National Business Affairs Award.

 Please join us in congratulating the new Advocacy Team members!

Legal Services is a statewide not-for-profit law firm providing free civil legal assistance to eligible low-income individuals, families and to elderly and disabled persons in the areas of domestic violence, consumer scams, housing, health and employment.   Legal Services attorneys and staff work through a network of 21 fully-staffed law offices and satellite offices, serving eligible clients in all 77 counties of Oklahoma.               
Funding for Legal Aid is from the Legal Services Corporation, the State of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Bar Foundation, 14 United Way and United Fund organizations and generous attorneys, law firms, foundations, businesses and individuals throughout the state contributing to the Campaign for Justice.