Pro-Bono Debt Relief Clinic Opens in Tampa Bay

Professor Robert Savage
Professor Robert Savage

December 13, 2013 - In January 2014, Thomas M. Cooley’s Tampa Bay Campus will open a pro-bono Debt Relief Clinic for underserved individuals in Hillsborough County facing debt-related legal issues. This free clinic will be staffed by Cooley students under the supervision of Professor Robert Savage, who also serves as the clinic’s director.

The clinic will provide Cooley students with an opportunity to gain legal knowledge and develop skills by representing clients in transactional matters, alternative dispute resolution, and pre-litigation resolution, all under the supervision of practicing attorneys. Its substantive law focus will include the Florida Consumer Collections Act and the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Florida Fair Lending Act and Florida Garnishment law among other areas of law.

“We’ve been working diligently to design a program that will serve the dual purpose of providing a much needed resource for the community while also giving our students exposure to real world legal issues,” said Savage. “We’re excited to see the hard work of establishing this legal clinic come to fruition and to begin working with the community in this capacity.”

Established in response to the expressed needs of the community, the clinic will offer legal assistance on issues arising from past due medical/hospital bills, loans, predatory lending, unfair/abusive collections practices, and more. Its goal is to assist consumers with debt issues and to become an information and referral source to support the work of other local legal aid organizations.

“Cooley Law School’s clinics are an extension of the legal profession’s commitment to community service,” said Jeffery L. Martlew, associate dean of the Tampa Bay Campus. “We try to develop clinics that can meet definite needs in a community, while teaching our students practical legal skills. Many people are still dealing with financial issues from the recession that local legal service organizations can’t meet. That is why Cooley opened a Debt Relief Clinic at the Tampa Bay campus.”

Other Cooley clinics cover topics such as estate planning, family law, immigrant rights and civil advocacy, and legal services for the elderly.

About Cooley Law School: Celebrating 40 years of excellence, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School is a private, nonprofit, independent law school accredited by the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission. Cooley has provided its more than 17,000 graduates with the practical skills necessary for a seamless transition from academia to the real world. Cooley offers its Juris Doctor program, Joint Degree programs, and Master of Laws programs three times a year with enrollment in January, May and September. Cooley Law School has campuses across Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor, and in Tampa Bay, Fla.



Clinic will assist under-served residents of Hillsborough County

Debt-related legal issues will be addressed by Cooley students, faculty

Practicing attorneys in area to participate in clinic as well

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