Due to growing demand, the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association's Street Law Clinic is expanding for the second time in less than a year.
Launched in February 2013, the free clinics quickly became so successful that a second session was added in October—this one geared specifically toward family law issues.
Now, in a move to further increase the number of people it can reach, the Street Law Clinic is joining forces with the University of Idaho College of Law Tax Clinic, in order to offer yet another area of focus: IRS Controversy Assistance.
“We are super excited to have them be part of this,” said Quinn Perry, coordinator of the Street Law Clinics. “There is a real barrier to access to justice for Idahoans, so any addition we can make to the clinic that gives people access to the help they need makes us happy.”
The University of Idaho College of Tax Law Clinic has been operating in Boise for more than four years, but joining forces with the Street Law Clinic will allow for expanded outreach.
According to Barb Lock, an attorney and professor at the University of Idaho College of Law, recent government cutbacks have resulted in “people just not getting the same level of attention they may have gotten before.”
And while tax audits might be funny in a comic strip, they are no laughing matter for those lacking resources to retain legal counsel.
“The majority of people come to us after the fact,” said Lock. “The IRS audit has already been completed and then they receive a Notice of Deficiency letter, telling them exactly how much they owe. At that point, the choice is either to pay or to petition the tax court.”
Deciding on possible next steps is where the Street Law Clinic can help. Whether it’s filling out a court form or explaining what happens next in the process, the clinic provides answers for those navigating an increasingly complex legal system.
“For the most part, the people who attend our clinics are pretty stressed out,” said Perry. “They just want to be heard—to be validated—and when they finally have a chance to sit down with somebody and tell their story, they feel so relieved.”
Held every second Monday at the downtown branch of the Boise Public Library, the Street Law Clinic answers questions on a broad range of topics, including landlord/tenant disputes, Social Security disability and the newly added IRS Controversy Assistance.
The Family Law Clinic, held every fourth Monday at the same location, is geared toward questions related to divorce, child custody, and support modifications.