Berkshire Center for Justice

Social service organizations don’t address legal issues. Lawyers don’t address social service needs.  Berkshire Center for Justice does both.

Hours & Contact
284 Main St, Ste 7
Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230
(413) 854-1955
flcberkshire@gmail.com
* Office Hours By Appointment
* Free Legal Clinic at The Guthrie Center Wednesdays 12noon – 1:00pm

A Letter From Our BCJ Board President

bcj-mission-iconBCJ is one of only 23 known nonprofit sliding scale organizations in the United States. Of that elite group, we are the only organization that also addresses social and community issues.

To my knowledge, no local nonprofit gives more for less than we do. Last year our annual income was $15,000. With that small amount, we provided the community with 50 free legal clinics and provided legal representation and education to 125 people! BCJ subsidizes services to free legal clients at an average cost of $500.00 per client.

Entering our 11th year, your donation will be a blessing. It is time for our staff to be paid. Our high school “Know Your Rights” program for graduating seniors began this year and we now focus on serving elders and their caretakers age 60 and above with preference to those who live in rural areas.

We are inspired by Eve’s vision of redressing injustice inflicted on the disenfranchised or anyone who cannot afford the $350 an hour lawyer fees. We are ground breaking, forward thinking and client centered and for her important work and accomplishments, Executive Director and Founder of BCJ, atty. Eve Schatz was selected by Berkshire Magazine as one of 2016’s most influential, creative and dedicated people in Berkshire County.

In celebration of Eve’s long time commitment and the many lives she has touched and in honor of our 10th year of operations, we ask you to give generously to the Berkshire Center for Justice.

Please lend us your support today. Donations can be made by clicking the donation  button above.

With warmest regards,
President, David Ornstil
Berkshire Center for Justice

JUSTICE FOR SENIORS PROGRAM

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Thanks in part to a grant from Elder Services, BCJ will be addressing the legal needs of elders age 60 and above with verified low income status in Great Barrington, Pittsfield, and Adams.  Medicaid Planning, construction of end of life documents; consumer protection abuses, elder fraud; consumer disputes including debt and credit card charges; and other legal issues can be addressed.  Read More…

EVE SCHATZ RECOGNIZED AS ONE OF BERKSHIRE 25!

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Berkshire Magazine celebrates the most dedicated, most creative, and most influential members of the community.  We are thrilled to announce that Eve Schatz tremendous work with Berkshire Center for Justice is being recognized and honored!

 

WEEKLY FREE LEGAL CLINICS

Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 11.18.14 AMYou will find us conducting intakes and advising clients as to their rights every Wednesday from 12 noon to 1 pm (sharp) in collaboration with the Guthrie Center‘s Free Community Lunch program.

SLIDING SCALE REPRESENTATION

We aim to make your representation affordable and efficient.  View the chart to see what you would pay for legal services.*

BCJ sliding scale (download)

*Sliding scale fees are income qualified and determined by income, number of people in a household/family and client assets. We will ask you to bring a copy of your W2 or recent tax return to your intake. Some services are offered on a fee for services basis and not an hourly rate.

How can we offer reduced fee rates?

As a charitable nonprofit we pay fewer taxes than other law firms. In addition, most of our clients come to us via word of mouth or by referral from community and social service providers including doctors, courts, and other nonprofits eliminating costly marketing expenses.

In addition, BCJ has always been a collaborative organization meaning we both share our resources in the community and accept resources from the community. These collective resources thereby insure that we neither duplicate existing community services nor pay full fee for resources that could be otherwise available to us at no cost or a reduced cost effectively helping us to manage costs.

Click here for a list of legal and social issues we address.

INTAKE DONATION

There is no charge for the initial interview with an attorney.  We do ask for a $50.00 donation to the Berkshire Center for Justice, Inc., to cover the cost of maintaining our small office where the interview will take place.  It is voluntary, and in cases where the donation would create a financial hardship on a client, it may be reduced or waived.  Where financial hardship is an issue, please note that when scheduling an appointment.

HIGH SCHOOL, COLLEGE AND CLIENT EDUCATION PROGRAMS

Self Advocacy

Some people have the capacity to advocate for themselves in areas of law that do not require attorney representation.  We advise clients how to do so.

“After only a few minutes in my initial visit with Eve I felt empowered and encouraged.  Her knowledge and insights were enormously helpful to me with my financial crises… Eve picked up on an additional concern regarding an impoverished friend and brought forth helpful information to pass on.  The Center is truly holistic legal counsel with a heart!”  ~ Barbara R.

“Know Your Rights” Education

Two BCJ attorneys will come to your high school or college to engage your students in an informative and lively conversation with real world hypotheticals concerning constitutional, criminal, consumer protection, child support, and contract law.  Call or email us us to discuss the needs of your particular school.

LEGAL, SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY REFERRALS

BCJ has a network of 23 attorneys; 2 accountants; interpreters in Spanish, Portuguese, Burmese, sign language; and is knowledgeable about community services in Berkshire County. We have helped clients receive grants, financial and psychological support, food, temporary housing for their pets, medical insurance, reduced fee and free utility services and more by listening closely to client needs and networking on their behalf within our community.

Why do we do we involve the community in a legal matter?

Because clients find it valuable. For example, if you come to us for an eviction for nonpayment of rent, and we address your landlord tenant issue without looking at why you can’t pay your rent, you might return next month with the same problem. On the other hand if we can possibly help you reduce your monthly bills, you may have more money to apply towards your rent creating a more long term rather than short term solution to your problem.

WE LOVE ARTISTS AND THEY LOVE US!

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Painting by Thor Wickstrom

This Berkshire painting is for sale. Local artist, Thor Wickstrom is known for his direct and honest landscapes. The 24″x 30″ oil on canvas featured in our header image retails for $850.00.  Thor has generously offered to donate 10% of the sale price works purchased through our referrals to support the good work of BCJ.  Please tell Thor you learned about him through BCJ’s website when making your purchase!