Free legal advice for veterans in Tacoma and Pierce County

Local attoneys operate Volunteer Legal Services Program

By J.M. Simpson on January 26, 2015

Shakespeare and due process go together.

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers," utters Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare's play Henry VI.

In the play, Dick is a follower of the rebel Jack Cade, who believed if he disturbed the law he could become a king.

Hence, contrary to what this famous quote may seem to be suggesting about the value of lawyers, Shakespeare actually meant it as a compliment to attorneys who instill and maintain a sense of justice in society.

Maintaining justice requires that due process, an established course for judicial proceeding designed to safeguard the rights of the individual, be observed.

It is at this intersection of justice and due process that the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association's Volunteer Legal Services Program facilitates access to volunteer attorney advice and representation, as well as self-help materials to low-income individuals who have civil legal needs in Pierce County.

Since its beginning in 2001, when it helped 200 individuals, the program has grown.

"Last year we helped 4,864 individuals," explained Laurie Davenport, the program's director. "Of that number, 544 were veterans, and we expect that number to grow."

That's right; veterans are offered free help.

More than 300 attorneys volunteer their time to work with low-income individuals, and many of these lawyers are veterans.

The program offers free legal advice clinics that can provide a private appointment with a volunteer attorney when a veteran needs advice on civil (non-criminal) legal issues such as family law, consumer problems, bankruptcy, housing or contacts.

"These attorneys work hard to build trust with veterans," continued Davenport.  "They want to help.

"The biggest problem vets face is family legal issues, and we are here to help," Davenport stressed.

The due process that the program offers does not judge veterans.

"The veteran's past does not matter; we are here to make the law work for you," continued Davenport.

"If you have an issue with family care or housing or anything of a civil matter, no one here will do anything but help you.  Don't be afraid to ask."

Even if veterans or active duty service members are not sure about qualifying for low-income services, or if they have other questions about eligibility, they are encouraged to call Volunteer Legal Services at 253.572.5134.

Even if veterans or active-duty members do not qualify, they may be connected to other resources.

Be advised that servicemembers should bring all pertinent documents or other information related to their case so the volunteer attorney can give them the best possible advice.

"It is important to remember that we consider the whole military community an important part of the work we do," concluded Davenport.

Shakespeare would agree.

For more information about the Volunteer Legal Services Program, visit or send an email to