Legal Clinic Staff
Donald J. Baranski-Attorney
Don received his Bachelor of Arts in Humanities Pre-Law majoring in American History, Psychology, and Philosophy from Michigan State University. He then received a Master of Arts in Philosophy from Michigan State University. He then received his Juris Doctor degree from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has taught paralegal courses at Jackson College and adoption law and running a law practice at Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He has lectured at the Michigan State University College of Law. He has been a judicial clerk and a city attorney. Don has been in the private general practice of law for over 30 years. He has handled adoptions, family law, criminal law, deceased estates, guardianships and conservatorships, construction law, bankruptcy, and general civil claims.
Rebecca received her Bachelor of Science in Special Education, Magna Cum Laude, from Eastern Michigan University. She then received her Juris Doctor, Cum Laude from the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Prior to entering into the legal profession, Rebecca was a special education high school teacher and union advocate for over 20 years. Rebecca has her own law firm of Callebs Law, PLLC, where she does a general law practice with emphasis on family law which consists of divorce, custody, parenting time, child support, paternity, and alimony. She also handles education law which includes Individual Education Plans [IEPs], and college and university issues. Rebecca includes in her practice; employment, estate planning, probate, children’s protective proceedings, and general civil claims.
Julie graduated 1st in her class summa cum laude from Baker College of Jackson with an Associate’s degree in Paralegal Studies. Julie interned with American One Credit Union during her last semester of college. She is a licensed member of the State Bar of Michigan as a paralegal/legal assistant. She has worked with a law firm in Ann Arbor extensively with Estate Planning. Julie worked for the Law Offices of Casey D. Conklin, and currently for the law offices of Donald J. Baranski, and Callebs Law, PLLC. Prior to entering into the legal profession, Julie has 20+ years of experience with customer service and retail.
Beginnings of the Legal Clinic
The Legal Clinic began in September 2017 as an idea of Angela Baranski, a Michigan State University intern, to help the women of Lansing and the surrounding areas with their legal problems. The Legal Clinic is a total volunteer, pro bono effort by attorneys Donald J. Baranski, Rebecca Kerr, and paralegal Julia Wallace in an effort to help those with legal needs for free. There is no funding or financial assistance to the attorneys from any source.
When The Legal Clinic Is Open:
We begin every Friday at 1 p.m. and stop at 3 p.m. However, if a client is at the Legal Clinic before 3 p.m., we do not turn anyone away until everyone is seen. We have no problem seeing the same clients with the same legal problem every Friday.
What We Do At The Legal Clinic:
Our primary function is to provide legal advice and guidance to clients in a multitude of situations. Some clients are just looking for legal advice. Some clients are trying to represent themselves in court, and we guide them with the appropriate forms and procedures all the way through their case each week at the Women’s Center.
Who We Assist:
Although the Legal Clinic is at the Women’s Center, we see men as clients as well. There is no income requirement for our free services. We do not discriminate due to gender, age, income, educational status, mental or physical health, religion, race, or ethnicity.
What We Do And What We Do Not:
We do not give legal assistance to clients other than at the Legal Clinic on Fridays. We ask that clients do not call the attorneys outside of this day/hours at their law offices. We do assist clients to complete legal forms and legal pleadings. However, we do not appear in court on the behalf of any Legal Clinic client unless retained to do so by the client and contracted to do so with an attorney.
Upon arrival, if you have not been to the Women’s Center before and completed the intake form, we ask each client to complete a two-sided form for statistical purposes for the Women’s Center to be funded. The client needs to sign the “Sign In” form on the clipboard for the Legal Clinic. This tells us how many clients we have each week, and it is also the order in which we call clients to interview. Normally it is first come, first serve. However, sometimes a client needs to go ahead and out of order due to their therapy appointment with a therapist at the Women’s Center, or they need to catch a bus, or they need to get to a homeless shelter by a certain time. We make every effort to see everyone, and to give all clients equal attention. To give everyone an opportunity to be heard, we try to limit the consultations to 30-minute sessions. It is very important for the client to bring all court documents, letters, and other written information that they have in their possession to their appointment.
Depending upon the week, some weeks we have two attorneys and some weeks we only have one attorney. On the weeks that we have only one attorney, the paralegal Julie will interview a client first before the client consults with the attorney to make things move quicker.
There is total confidentiality between the attorney and the client. Attorneys are never required to disclose any information to anyone under the legal concept of attorney/client privilege.
It is possible to privately retain the Legal Clinic attorneys to represent you for your case. The primary function of the free legal clinic is to give free legal advice and counsel. However, sometimes the client needs an attorney to represent them in court. If that is necessary, the client and attorney will discuss what the terms are for private representation. We have a sliding scale on attorney fees for private pay depending upon the client’s income and circumstances.
We try very hard to ensure that every Friday that we have at least one attorney at the Legal Clinic. However, sometimes there are conflicts with the attorneys having to be in court, or vacation, family issues or inclement weather. We try very hard to cancel the Legal Clinic at least one day in advance. So far, we have been able to be open during most traditional holiday weeks.