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Crowdfund for a Worthy Legal Cause?

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 11, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Lisa Walinske, an attorney, is not homeless. It just looks that way.

She's on a type of strike, living in a shack to raise money for a non-profit law firm to help homeless, poor and underprivileged people. But her 12-year-old son said she looks homeless.

"He's homeless," Walinske told a reporter while pointing to a bearded man in his 50s. "I'm trying to help him."

Homeless Crowdfunding

After working as a partner at an established law firm, Walinske left to found ReDetroit East Community Law Center. She set up her "campout for justice" to raise money to get it off the ground through GoFundMe.

"We need money to pay a staff person to coordinate things, so we can help more people," she told the Detroit Free Press. "We want to increase our outreach efforts, and we also need to pay the heating bills for several of our community properties where we're housing people with no place to stay."

The newspaper said Walinske will stay in her shack until she gets the donations she needs -- at least $18,500. She's short on cash, but has a "bottomless well of emphathy for down-and-out Detroiters."

Crowdfunding is definitely a thing, but some wonder if it is the right thing for lawyers. Public interest lawyers may have the right recipe if they can get cooking.

Public Interest Lawyers

Kellie Ann Furr is one of those attorneys. Above the Law said she did crowdfunding right, raising money to start an environmental firm.

But even with some media exposure, she didn't reach her crowdfunding goal. Walinske faces the same challenge and may spend a long, cold winter in her shack.

The path from poverty is hard, whether you are a homeless person or just a lawyer trying to help.

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