People's Law College offers help in troubled times

By Elizabeth Palmer
Legal News

In the current economic climate, many Michigan residents are representing themselves in court, and most are doing so without the benefit of a legal education.

In the spirit of public service, area attorneys and experts are volunteering their time to help educate the public on a variety of vital topics.

“We wanted to do something that only lawyers can do for the public,” Lindsay Citrin, chair of the Oakland County Bar Association’s Public Service Committee, says of the impetus behind the People’s Law College.

The annual lecture series, which began as a small program offered solely through the OCBA, has grown through a partnership with the Oakland County Law Library and is going strong in its third year.

With topics for each of its five monthly lectures ranging from Driver’s License Registration & Expungement to Immigration Law, the People’s Law College is driven directly by the interests of the community it serves, according to Citrin.

The subjects of each lecture are chosen from a list kept by Law Library officials of the issues most asked by patrons.

As the only public law library in Southeastern Michigan, the Oakland County Law Library welcomes a large number of people through its doors, approximately 75 percent of whom are members of the public with no legal training.

According to Laura Mancini, the library’s director, an ever-increasing number of people are coming in and seeking out professional legal advice, as they are now finding themselves often in the position of having to represent their own interests in court.

Noting that there “is tremendous interest in the public on these topics,” Mancini feels that the People’s Law College also provides a unique opportunity for area attorneys and experts to give back to the public, citing it as a “good way to make connections and get involved with the community and educate people.”

Lisa Stadig Elliot, executive director of the OCBA, says that “partnering with the Law Library has been a win, win.”

In fact, the lecture on property taxes given by Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner received attention from Fox News Detroit partially because of the large turnout for the program. It was standing room only, rounding out at nearly 60 attendees.

Attendance for the Tuesday, March 29 lecture, titled “Ten Myths About Filing for Bankruptcy,” promises to be robust as well.

 The speaker, chosen for both her vibrant presence and her expertise, is Alyson Oliver of Waterford.

Hailing from the Kresch Oliver law firm in Southfield, Oliver promises to present a program that is both informative and engaging.

Noting that the OCBA Public Service Committee likes “dynamic speakers,” Citrin says that Oliver’s name came up several times during the selection process.

The 2011 lecture series continues on April 26, with a program about estate planning for the elderly, and is set to finish on May 31, with a lecture titled, “Immigration Law: Status, Rights and Obligations of Non-Citizens.”

Further details can be found on the OCBA’s website,, or by calling the Oakland County Law Library at (248) 858-0012.