Legal Aid’s work to empower clients happens not only through representation and outreach activities, but also coaching on pro se advice. Because of this work, low-income community members know their rights and how to stand up for them.
Kimberly Davis was fed up with her mechanic. Though she had been a loyal customer at the popular auto shop, Ms. Davis discovered they had “repaired” her exhaust system with coat hangers and adhesive.
“The third time my muffler fell off, I went to a specialist who said I could pay $269 to have it properly welded,” Ms. Davis said. Having already spent more than three times as much at the original shop, Ms. Davis asked them to give her the money back.
When the mechanic offered only $100, Ms. Davis decided to take them to court — something she’d never done before. She attended a Legal Aid brief advice clinic
at a local library where volunteer Leslie Wolfe, an attorney at Walter | Haverfield LLP and a Legal Aid Partner in Justice, agreed to prep Ms. Davis for small claims court.
“She told me how to present myself, what subjects to begin with and how to close. She showed me how to set up my notes as I presented my case, to gather all my receipts and the pictures I had,” Ms. Davis said. “It was very helpful to me, and it worked out great.”
In the end, the mechanic settled with Ms. Davis, fixing her car the right way, and giving her a one year warranty on parts and labor, as well as $300 in cash. Ms. Wolfe was happy to learn her brief advice client’s good news, and encourages other unsatisfied customers to file their complaints.
“You shouldn’t think it’s a loss because you’re just a little guy; go and give small claims court a try,” Ms. Wolfe explained.