2 Lamplighter 1 (1990-1991)

handle is hein.journals/lmplgt2 and id is 1 raw text is: XK2A. R CaN ._/ 0n  .C .7T

Consumer Law for the New
Legal Services Practitioner
Kathleen Keest

Reprinted with permission by Kath-
leen Keest from The National Clear-
inghouse for Legal Services, Vol. 23,
No. 7. Copyright  1989 by National
Clearinghouse for Legal Services, Inc.
I. Overview
A. Getting Interested
The first step in effective representa-
tion of low-income consumers is to un-
derstand its importance to your clients.
A combination of the decrease in real
buying power, the increase in costly
and disadvantageous creative credit
practices, and the dramatic rise in
home equity lending (a particular
problem for the elderly and the new
poor) means that the adverse eco-
nomic impact of consumer problems

on a low-income family can be dra-
matic.
For our clients especially, these are
real bread and butter issues, which
often cross the boundaries of legal
specializations. Knowing one's way
around the bankruptcy law can help a
housing lawyer protect a public hous-
ing tenant from eviction. Knowing truth
in lending or usury laws may help a
Title III lawyer save an elderly client's
home from foreclosure. Knowing the
U.C.C. can help a client keep the car
she needs to get to her job, or help
another client get help in repairing or
replacing the lemon car he bought so
that he can get to his doctor's ap-
pointments.
One of the major problems of poor
people is that they do not have enough

money. That is tautological, of courl.
But a legal services lawyer expV;
ences little satisfaction from getting a
client increased social security bene-
fits or wrongfully denied AFDC bene-
fits, if the little money available is then
diverted to price-gouging ghetto mer-
chants or predatory lenders, instead
of being spent for the basics, such as
food, shelter, heat, and health care.
Unfortunately, it it just as true as
ever that the poor pay more. Thus,
the poor are denied the benefits of the
little buying power they have with their
limited income.' Rent-to-own cus-
tomers can end up paying almost $900
for a $330 television (an incredible 163
percent annual percentage rate).2
Consumers who believe deceptive
(Continued on page 11)
Brennan's Restaurant in New Orleans. Photo
provided by the Greater New Orleans Tourist
and Convention Center.
r--n g
Consumer Law for the
New Legal Services
Practitioner  ............  1
The LAMPlighter Says ...  2
Chief's  Column  ...........  3
LAMP Committee
Activities  ...............  4
The Consumer Price Index
and Child Support
Proceedings  ...........  5
LAMP Committee Awards    6
Forms and Checklists ... 7-10

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