Attorneys Russ Moore and his son Russel Moore recently earned Volunteers of the Year for the Rockdale County Family Law Information Center. (Staff Photo: Karen Rohr)
CONYERS — As the saying goes, time is money, but two local attorneys decided time can also equate to a chance to assist local citizens, even if compensation isn’t involved.
Russel Moore and his father, Russ Moore, of the law office Nation, Moore and Associates on Bank Street in Olde Town Conyers recently shared the honor of the 2013 Volunteer Attorney of the Year for the Family Law Information Center. The Center provides free consultations to those citizens needing information and guidance related to family law issues like divorce or adoption. Volunteer attorneys make themselves available for the one-time, 30-minute meetings each Friday from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
The Center is coordinated by the Rockdale County Superior Court Clerk’s Civil Division, and attorneys meet with members of the public in the Rockdale County Courthouse Law Library.
Russel Moore said he estimates he and his father invest one Friday every one to two months, but sometimes more if other attorneys cancel.
“If someone bows out, we’re more than happy to fill in. It’s a way to give back to the community and you always meet with some interesting people while you’re there,” he said. “Our experience is most often once they get an answer, it keeps them out of court so it makes their path through the court system easier.”
Moore said that divorce is the most popular legal matter that people want to discuss, and that for some couples who have no children, proceeding through the paperwork themselves, without having to go to court, is a solution. For those with children, hiring an attorney is most likely necessary due to child custody issues.
In their law practice, the Moores handle about 80 percent family law cases. Sometimes they take on cases they hear at the Center as pro-bono work if a person doesn’t have the resources to hire an attorney. Alternately, sometimes people who are aided by the Center choose to hire them for work.
The Moores have been volunteers at the Center since June 2013. Russel Moore said that the volunteer attorneys not only point citizens in the right direction when it comes to pursuing legal matters, but that the time the volunteers take with the citizens alleviates stress on staff at the Clerk of Courts office.
Clerk of Courts office, attorneys and citizens all reap the benefits from the Center, he said.
“It’s a highly beneficial program,” he said.
Rockdale County Deputy Clerk of Courts Joy Wright said the program doesn’t offer direct legal advice but rather helps steer litigants in the right direction to find help, whether that be paperwork online or seeking an attorney.
“It helps the courts and the individuals,” she said.
People consult with the attorneys for matters including adoptions, alimony, child custody and visitation, contempt, divorce, modification of support, name change, nullity of marriage, paternity, pre-marital agreement, wills and estates.
In 2013, the Center logged 62 clients who sought help for 98 case types, and so far in 2014, 45 clients have visited the Center seeking assistance on 62 case types.
Wright said about eight volunteer attorneys gave of their time in 2013 and so far in 2014 about 16 are volunteering.
“We have six slots every Friday and usually they are full,” she said of the time slots available to the public.
Wright said that the Moores aided greatly with the program as she was attempting to build interest among other attorneys. When volunteer attorneys canceled the volunteer times, the father-son team willingly picked up the slack, she said.
“It’s not like ‘Again?’ It’s like ‘Sure.’ It’s just the attitude. They both are concerned about the community,” said Wright.
Attorneys interested in volunteering at the Family Law Information Center may contact Joy Wright at 770-278-7905. Community members interested in scheduling a time with a volunteer attorney, may visit www.rockdaleclerk.com or call 770-278-7905.