By: Maria Hibbard
If you log on to Groupon’s Baltimore deals sometime before Saturday, you won’t find “A Luxurious Spa Package for Two” or a “$20 for $40 worth of Asian Fare” deal (although those are the best!) – you’ll find a chance to give $10 towards the JustAdvice Clinic, a low-cost legal services program operated by The University of Maryland.
Although JustAdvice aims to provide low cost legal services to those who need brief advice for their legal issues, the clinic has partnered with Groupon Grassroots for a campaign to raise at least $300 to provide free legal services to at least 30 people. The campaign doesn’t proceed unless at least 30 people donate; as of Thursday morning, though, “the deal is on” because over 50 had bought the deal.
The JustAdvice clinic and the Groupon campaign highlight a number of ways in which community advocating for civil justice can be proactive in the wake of the recession. With “brief advice” clinics at a cost of $10, the clinic addresses the needs of people who may find themselves not able to qualify for pro bono services at legal aid organizations (because of income restrictions), but not able to afford a private attorney. The clinic empowers those who may be in this position to take the next steps in accessing legal resources or provides assistance in thinking about how to proceed pro se. With the Groupon Grassroots campaign, the clinic knocks the $10 cost down to zero for a portion of its clients while using the power of collective action via technology. And although the JustAdvice clinic does not provide continuing legal services to its clients, it does serve another purpose. In the clinic, University of Maryland law students and recent grads get the chance to gain hands-on clinical experience in the midst of a tough job market.
From the looks of it, you’re not going to get a better find on Groupon if you’re an advocate for civil justice – and there’s only 3 days and 11 hours left to get the deal!