What happens when you're not poor enough to qualify for free legal aid and not rich enough to pay $75 an hour to have a Connecticut Avenue lawyer listen to your problems?
In these days of economic squeeze, if a complaint isn't urgent it's likely to be put off to another day, says Washington attorney Karen Henize. But if it can't wait, Henize and two other lawyers are available at the Community Law Office, a non-profit, public interest law firm where fees are generally in the $30 an hour range.
Henize says that the office tries to be a middle ground for people who don't want to defend themselves in court but can't afford what has become the going -- and expensive -- rate for legal help. More than half the work at the Community Law Office at 425 13th St. NW involves domestic relations -- from child custody and support to divorce -- and another 30 percent is landlord-tenant cases, Henize said.
The office, which concentrates on a civil law practice, closes out 300 to 400 cases per year, said Henize, who works with attorneys Jane Murphy and Cathy Surace. Most of the clientele comes from Capitol Hill and Anacostia, she said.
"All the money we take in we pay out in salaries, and our salaries are pretty low," said Henize.