CARSON CITY — Every day brings a new set of challenges and rewards for the attorneys, staff and clients of Volunteer Attorneys for Rural Nevadans.
Incorporated in December 1996, VARN, a local nonprofit organization, remains dedicated to creating a better future for rural Nevadans through free legal services. In 15 years the program has grown from a part-time director to a full-time staff of eight, including four attorneys.
But serving the 360,000 rural Nevadans spread out over a 90,000-square-mile area isn’t nearly as difficult as breaking the silence about the grim realities of domestic abuse. Each year through its Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Program, VARN helps roughly 300 Nevada women, men and children escape the destructive and mentally taxing world of an abusive home.
VARN also operates a pro bono program to help low-income individuals with a wide range of legal services, including family matters, consumer protection and debt collection and conducts clinics on a wide variety of important legal issues. Twice a month VARN sponsors “Lawyer in the Lobby,” where community members can speak with an attorney for 20 minutes about their civil legal problems.
A 2007 needs assessment commissioned by the Nevada Supreme Court showed there are roughly 5,300 Nevadans for every one legal services attorney in the rural counties VARN serves. With the recent recession, the number of Nevadans needing legal services has multiplied. That’s why volunteer attorneys are key to the program’s success.
For more information, visit www.varn.org or call 883-8278.