Helpline Connecting Teens with Lawyers, Counseling, and More
Sometimes we can’t help but look at innovators and think, “Man, that’s such a simple concept. Why didn’t I think of that?” Well, in the case of establishing a website that provides free, confidential, and anonymous legal advice to teens that need it, that might be the natural reaction. But for Matt Boulos and his team, it’s not about who thought of it first. It’s simply a matter of providing a basic service to help a vulnerable population.

A Little Background

As a student at the University of Toronto, Boulos studied Computer Science, Peace & Conflict Studies, and International Relations. He then went on to complete a fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a law degree at Harvard. But it was his involvement with his church youth group in Scarborough that brought forth the idea for Teen Legal Helpline.

When a member of Boulos’ youth group was involved in a criminal matter, he realized he possessed access to the kind of legal, business, and tech network and knowledge that could be very useful in helping teens get find the legal help they deserve. Today, Boulos and his team of ten lawyers provide free legal advice to kids that fall victim to crimes, those that have committed a crime, and those involved in domestic disputes or immigration issues.

Thanks to a campaign that explored target communities and focused on getting to know partners that serve young people in those regions, Boulos and his team have already established beneficial relationships with a number of influential educators that are enthused about advocating for the services provided by Teen Legal Helpline. Boulos says, “Their recommendations have led to steady demand for service.”

Who Do You Work With?

Boulos’ team is currently comprised of ten unique lawyers that excel in their private practices but share a desire to give back. They currently contribute their time and advice as volunteers. Boulos believes that having members with varying specialties allows the helpline to extend to teens that may otherwise have little to no representation in a legal matter.

“For example,” Boulos says, “if you’re working as a family lawyer, you’ll often see situations where the young person is not represented – the family is falling apart but the young person doesn’t know what to do or how to manage the situation. I’ve heard repeatedly from family lawyers how wonderful it would be to serve those kids when they needed it, and that’s what motivates them.”

So What’s The Next Step?

According to Boulos, “The next natural step is to build real partnerships and improve the quality of the service, which is being helped along by our being selected for something called The Cause School. This is a program where the Corktown Seed Co. lends their marketing, design and brand capabilities to help us solve pressing needs and also help us to network.”

The partnership with the Corktown Seed Co. will give Boulos an opportunity to meet with the Toronto Community Foundation, Metrolinx, and other important players to receive valuable feedback.

“[Corktown is] helping us rebuild our front-end user experience and helping connect a network of organizations that serve,” says Boulos. “Because imagine if you catch a kid’s legal problems, and can then refer them to someone who can help with the other problems they’re facing.”

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Posted by: DSR
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Tag: Legal
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