Asked & Answered: Working hard to supply legal services to those in need

By Steve Thorpe

Legal News
Every spring the Salvation Army’s William Booth Legal Aid Clinic hosts a Walk for Justice fundraiser at the Detroit Zoo to raise money and draw attention to the work of the clinic.
This year’s event is on tap this weekend. 

Clinic Director Amy Roemer recently spoke with Steve Thorpe of the Legal News about the fundraiser and the work done by the clinic.
Thorpe: Give us a brief history of the clinic.

Roemer: The William Booth Legal Aid Clinic was established in 1994 by attorney Robert Dickman, a longtime practitioner in the Detroit legal scene, who spent significant time observing the estranged relationship that indigent citizens often had with the court system.  

Recognizing that indigency itself could be an impediment to adequately accessing and navigating the legal system, Dickman decided to dedicate his career to help balance the scales. 

Aided by the generous support of friends, he established the William Booth Legal Aid Clinic with the goal of paving the way to fresh starts and new opportunities by providing quality, cost free legal services for low-income individuals and families affiliated with the various Salvation Army programs.  

In 2000, the WBLAC formally joined The Salvation Army and the clinic continued servicing residents of the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Program, its shelters and other similar projects while representing indigent clients throughout the metropolitan Detroit area.

Thorpe: What sort of work does it do today?

Roemer: With the assistance of a small staff of attorneys and part time student interns, the clinic now addresses nearly 2,000 issues each year, assisting clients with a wide variety of cases including landlord-tenant issues, child support, custody, parenting time, consumer advocacy, traffic tickets, social security and creditor-debtor laws. 

The clinic also has joined forces with the Third Circuit Court, regularly conducting free outreach programs to assist indigent litigants with pending family law matters.
Thorpe: Tell us about the Walk for Justice event.

Roemer: On April 23, the clinic will be hosting the 4th annual Walk for Justice at the Detroit Zoo. 

This family-friendly event draws participants from all over the metropolitan Detroit area, including many judges, attorneys and other members of the legal and business communities. 

Featuring all-day access to the zoo, entertainment, refreshments and an impressively stocked Silent Auction, the Walk for Justice, offers something fun for everyone, kids and adults alike. 

The event begins at 8 a.m. and registration for adults is only $35 and kids are free.  

The price of admission includes full access to the zoo, parking, a T-shirt, refreshments and entry for a door prize. 
Thorpe: Who are some of the sponsors?

Roemer: Sponsorship of the a Walk For Justice has come from all over Metropolitan Detroit, including business leaders like Durr Systems, Bill Brown Ford, Golling Auto Group, Georgetown Dermatology, Marshall E. Campbell Company, Inc., Edward Jones, McNaughton-McKay Electric Company, Towing & Equipment and Records Deposition Service. 

The list of sponsors also features many members of the legal community including attorneys Deborah L. Gordon, Sheldon Larky, Justen Grech, Roger Smith and H. Joel Newman, the law firms of Wise and Wise, Dawda Mann, Clement and Hurst, PLC, McNeely and Mittelstaedt, Raftery, Janeczek & Hoelscher and Detroit Mercy Law.
Thorpe: How is the money raised used?

Roemer: The clinic’s operations are funded exclusively through generous donations from members of the community. 

Proceeds from the Walk For Justice directly support all legal service programming, including consultations, client advocacy,  court appearances and regularly scheduled community outreach sessions.
Thorpe: How can those unable to attend the event find out more about the clinic or donate to its efforts?

Roemer: For more information or to donate, visit