Legal Aid Attorney
Civil legal aid is the assistance of counsel and legal advocacy for individuals living at or near poverty in legal issues that fall beyond the criminal justice system. For individuals dealing with civil legal challenges, such as unlawful evictions, foreclosure, domestic abuse, or wrongful rejection of government assistance, navigating the justice system without an attorney can be hopeless. However, unlike the Sixth Amendment right to counsel in criminal cases, courts have not recognized a right to a lawyer in the vast majority of civil cases. This puts justice out of reach for low-income people, and undermines a fundamental principle of our nation, that: the amount of money an individual has should not decide the quality of justice they get.
Legal aid programs help ensure fairness in the justice system. Approximately 47 million people, and more than one in five children, live in or near poverty in the U.S. Legal aid providers protect the legal rights of millions of Americans with low-income every year in areas including housing, consumer, family, education and employment, and protect access to services for individuals of all backgrounds, including children, veterans, victims of domestic violence, the elderly, and those living with disabilities.
How Does Legal Aid Help?
Legal aid is oftentimes the only lifeline provided to individuals facing life-altering consequences, such as losing their home, employment, or custody of their children. For example, research has shown that the provision of legal services "drastically reduces the incidence of domestic violence." The form of aid depends on the kind of legal trouble the client faces. Legal aid lawyers advocate for individuals in a range of issues outside of court, litigate on their behalf in court, and frequently lead complicated legal actions pursuing systemic changes that affect large numbers of people facing similar circumstances.