Perhaps the most distinctive feature of a community law centre is its commitment to empowering its clients, staff and the local community. This reflects the view that one of the worst consequences of poverty is the powerlessness of its victims and that the abolition of poverty involves giving disadvantaged individuals and communities control over their own future. In addition, of course, community involvement in determining the policy of a law centre also results in the most effective use of scarce resources as community representatives are best placed to identify the community's greatest needs.
The Law Centre gave me an opportunity in a small way to contribute and help to ease the fear and apprehension which many in the community feel when they are confronted with a legal problem.
In 1997, while in my second year devilling, I was asked by a fellow colleague and devil if I would consider volunteering for what was the Coolock Law Centre. So I decided to give it a go...
I was in my late teens and I was looking for a job, a challenging kind of job...something interesting, and I'd heard about FLAC, and I'd heard they were opening a full time Law Centre . . . so I decided I'd try and see.
My work during the four years I spent in the Centre was varied and always interesting.
Mary Mohan is a former client who went on to represent the community as one of our board members. This is what she had to say about her experience at the law centre:
“I approached [CLM Northside] because ….I got cancer and I could not work. As a self employed person, I got into debt. Galway university has now done a study which shows the average debt a cancer patience gets into is €12,000 . This is because, even after chemotherapy treatment is over, a person is put under medical control for 5 years which means intensive medical care after treatment. My doctors in the Mater hospital said I would have to find a support system that could handle my growing debts. I found the service so important to myself to be able to delegate these complicated issues, as my energy levels were so low. I do believe the stress of the debt issues, the team at [CLM Northside] took on for me helped me get through my recovery from cancer … I would recommend [CLM Northside] to people whom have a acute critical illness or disability and can't handle legal disputes that come their way.”
“I contacted the Law Centre with a very complicated redundancy case. My solicitor kept me informed and involved on all aspects of the case and quickly returned any queries I had. I was very pleased with the service of the Law Centre and the out come of my case”
‘I am very happy with the service I got, it couldn’t be any better. The staff are friendly and they’re very helpful’.
"I am very happy with the outcome of my case with Moya from the Law Centre representing me. She has a no nonsense attitude and likes to get the job done. I think the Law Centre in Coolock is a great facility for people who are looking for advice or like me who have a case that needs a good Solicitor. I am very grateful to Moya and the team for their help."