It's their way of giving back to the community. Dozens of lawyers go pro bono to help out those who face evictions. Our Karen Lee reports on the ninth annual "Home for the Holidays" project.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- There was little downtime Thursday morning inside the chambers of Syracuse City Court Part 1 or the landlord-tenant court.
"I thought it was going to be really slow and boy was I wrong," said Colleen Bentley, an administrative assistant with the Volunteer Lawyer Project.
Berleen Innis is one of many people who have come here with an eviction letter. Her landlord is telling her to leave by the 28th of this month. She'd like a grace period until January 4th, when she receives her disability check.
"I hope everything works out alright because I have a son that has Down syndrome. I cannot be out by the 28th," said Innis.
She and dozens of others are receiving extra and free help this week from almost thirty lawyers who are participating in the annual "Home for the Holidays" project. As might be suspected, attorneys say they've represented more clients in more eviction cases just in this past year.
"People are losing their jobs and along with that, when they don't have their income, they also lose their homes. So we are seeing a substantial, drastic change in the economic climate in our area," said Julie Rosen, a senior attorney with the Frank Hiscock Legal Aid Society.
"It really feels great, especially when they're upset and crying, there's children involved. To be able to stay home for the holidays is a beautiful thing," said Bentley.
"This is pretty much instant gratification. A lot of times cases drag on for weeks and months and years, but we'll be able to, by 11 o'clock this morning, have served maybe about a dozen clients and help them stay in their homes," said Dennis Kaufman, the Legal Services of Central New York's executive director.
Thirteen, including Berleen Innis, to be exact.
"Home for the Holidays" will continue through the 21st. The program is run by the Justice Alliance of Central New York, the Volunteer Lawyer Project of the Onondaga County Bar Association and the Frank Hiscock Legal Aid Society.