Tulalip Office of Civil Legal Aid

The Tulalip Office of Civil Legal Aid (TOCLA), under the jurisdiction of the Tulalip Tribal Court, provides free legal assistance to low-income tribal members with general civil legal issues including those that affect safety, family integrity, health, access to public benefits and education. Tulalip tribal members, parents of Tulalip tribal children, and native individuals living within the Tulalip community are served by TOCLA. Special exceptions may be made to allow for the representation of non-native individuals, so long as such exceptions are by TOCLA policy.

TOCLA provides culturally sensitive, holistic and competent legal representation by collaborating with other Tulalip tribal legal and social services. Collectively, they assist clients in identifying legal and non-legal needs and address barriers to accessing services. In the expansion of civil legal aid through TOCLA, tribal members gain greater access to the Tulalip judicial system.

TOCLA operates under applicable Tulalip tribal law, court rules and federal and state law specific to reservation residents. Legal representation by TOCLA occurs under the jurisdiction of the Tulalip Tribal Court. The Victim Legal Advocacy Project may also provide legal representation for eligible civil legal actions in state court.

Program Profile

Tulalip Office of Civil Legal Aid (TOCLA): TOCLA has one general civil legal aid attorney to represents low-income community members in general civil legal matters at the Tulalip Tribal Court. The attorney can help with a large number of civil legal issues, from family law cases, such as guardianships and dissolutions, to public benefits cases, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) appeals.

TOCLA requires that a client must be a member of a federally recognized tribe, be low-income and meet financial requirements to be eligible for legal services. Representation may be limited by the following conditions:

  • TOCLA will provide only Brief Services or Mediation Services in cases where both parties are Tulalip tribal members unless one of the parties is or was a victim of domestic violence, in which case more comprehensive services may be available (See the Levels of Service section below).
  • TOCLA will provide only Brief Services to individuals who have an issue against a tribal entity, including, but not limited to, the Tulalip Tribes, the Tulalip Gaming Agency and the Tulalip Housing Department.
  • Tribal Parent Advocacy Project (TPAP): TPAP consists of one full-time and one half-time attorney to represent low-income community members in dependency cases at the Tulalip Tribal Court. TPAP represents parents and children involved in dependency cases (Youth in Need of Care or beda?chelh) in the Tulalip Tribal Court.
  • The client must be a member of a federally recognized tribe or a parent of a Tulalip tribal child, and be low-income and meet financial requirements to be eligible for legal services from TPAP. Representation may be limited by the following conditions:
  • A parent may be disqualified from eligibility for representation if he or she has demonstrated a pattern of domestic violence perpetration, is alleged to have killed or seriously injured a child, has a conviction involving family violence or has perpetrated sexual abuse against a child or is a registered sex offender.

Victim Legal Advocacy Project (VLAP): VLAP consists of one attorney and a paralegal providing holistic legal representation for tribal members or a parent, spouse, or significant other of a tribal member and their children, or a member of another federally recognized tribe. Priority is given to those living within the Tulalip Reservation boundaries, or other individuals (on a case by case basis) who are victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. VLAP is a grant-funded collaboration between TOCLA and the Tulalip Tribes’ Legacy of Healing (LOH) program.

Eligibility for the Victim Legal Advocacy Project is not subject to Tulalip Tribes poverty guidelines. The measurement used for eligibility is the victim’s desire to leave the abusive relationship and maintain her safety as specified in the screening guidelines.

Tulalip Child Advocacy Project (TCAP): TCAP is a grant-funded program that consists of one full-time attorney who provides holistic, developmentally appropriate, and culturally competent advocacy to children and youth who are involved in dependency (Youth in Need of Care or beda?chelh) cases at the Tulalip Tribal Court. Children under twelve years of age are generally represented under an attorney Guardian ad Litem (GAL) model, while children over twelve years of age are generally represented according to their stated interests. Exceptions to this policy can be made by the court on a case by case basis.

  • Any party in a Youth in Need of Care (YNC) case may petition the court for the appointment of an attorney or GAL for any child involved in a YNC case.
  • The child advocate attorney will serve as a GAL or attorney of the child or youth until the case is dismissed by the child returning home to the parent(s) or obtaining other permanency, when the youth turns 21 or by dismissal through a court order.

Pro Se Navigator: Another grant-funded position, the pro se navigator, helps Tribal members and others. The navigator can review their filled out court paperwork for completeness, explain how to navigate the Tulalip Tribal Code and generally explain the court process and how to get a hearing date.

Levels of Service

  • Brief Services: Provides guidance only on accessing the judicial system and/or social services plus referrals to tribal and state legal and social services. Because no legal advice or representation is provided at this level, it may be possible to give general guidance only regarding the legal process to both parties.
  • Basic Representation: Legal advice on complex uncontested matters; completing and reviewing court forms and pleadings; advocacy in the form of writing letters on clients’ behalf; and guidance on the legal process.
  • Full Representation: Limited representation for 1-2 court hearings to full litigation representation in Tulalip tribal trial court cases, tribal appellate level cases, and administrative level or state and federal hearings is provided. TPAP and VLAP provide full representation to their clients.
  • Mediation Services: Neutral process for bringing about agreement or reconciliation between parties in a dispute.

Types of Cases

  • Consumer Law
  • Dependency
  • Education Law
    • School Discipline
    • Special Education
  • Exclusions(deferrals only)
  • Family Law
    • Divorce/Custody/Child Support
    • Youth and Adult Guardianship
  • Gaming Licensing/ Employment
  • Housing/ Landlord-Tenant
  • Indian Estate Planning
    • Wills specific to Indian trust land
    • Health Care Directives
    • Powers of Attorney
  • Protection Orders
  • Public Benefits
    • Tribal Disability
    • TANF
    • SSI and other IHS or state benefits
  • Tribal Land Issues
  • Youth Advocacy
  • Youth Dependency Representation
  • Emancipation
  • Guardianship

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