Attorney General T.J. Donovan, the Association of Africans Living in Vermont (AALV), Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, and the Vermont Institute for Community and International Involvement (VICII) announced The People’s Law School—a series of free, virtual presentations on contemporary topics impacting the lives of Vermonters. The series, which begins on April 7, 2021, will provide practical information about a range of topics including such topics as the Fourth Amendment, representing yourself in small claims court, tenant rights, understanding eligibility for benefits, and family law. The People’s Law School is also supported by ACLU of Vermont and The Caroline Fund, which offers a fund for women and their families in emergency situations and free legal advice to anyone seeking guidance.
“I’m excited to collaborate with these great community partners in our effort to bring legal knowledge directly to people so that they can have greater access and insight into Vermont’s legal system and available state services,” said Attorney General Donovan regarding the announcement.
“This is a great opportunity for our served communities to learn about some basic rules that can help them become productive citizens. We are thrilled to be part of this collaborative effort,” said Yacouba Jacob Bogre, Executive Director of AALV.
“It is important that Black and Brown folks understand how to operate within these systems that have historically rendered racially disparate outcomes, as we continue the work to transform them. Unifying our community behind these efforts is an imperative,” said Mark Hughes, Executive Director of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance.
“This new partnership will help to provide ordinary people with the legal education and access to the courts which alone maintains the constitutional guarantee that all people have the right to the equal protection of the law. In addition, the partnership will help strengthen the understanding that the rule of law in our state and nation keeps alive the American heritage of security and freedom,” said Sandy Baird for the Vermont Institute of Community and International Involvement and The Caroline Fund.
The People’s Law School will be held on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. All members of the public are welcome to participate in these free presentations. At this time, all presentations will be held virtually, however, if COVID-19 restrictions change in the coming months, presentations may be held in a hybrid format with some in-person capacity. Links to each presentation will be made available on VICII’s website, www.vicii.org/events. Presenters will include attorneys and other topical experts. The schedule of topics is as follows:
• April 7: The Fourth Amendment – Understanding Your Rights When Stopped by The Police
• April 21: Earth Day and the Environment
• May 5: Small Claims Court (Pro Se Litigation)
• May 12: Residential Rental Agreements
• May 19: Understanding Benefits & Eligibility—SNAP, Medicaid, General Assistance
• June 2: Consumer Protection 101
• June 16: Understanding State Government
• June 30: Employment Law 101
• July 14: Family Law 101
• July 21: Understanding Your First Amendment Rights
If you would like to learn more about The People’s Law School, visit www.vicii.org/events or contact Sandy Baird at 802-355-4968 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional resources, including sample letters, legal forms, and guides to help Vermonters prepare for court appearances, can be found on the Vermont legal help website at VTLawHelp.org. The website is co-produced by Legal Services Vermont and Vermont Legal Aid.