Legal aid society is the assistance of counsel and legal advocacy for people living in or near poverty in legal matters outside the criminal justice system. For people facing civil legal challenges, such as unlawful evictions, foreclosure, domestic abuse, or wrongful denial of government assistance, navigating the justice system without a lawyer can be impossible. This puts justice out of reach for low-income people and undermines a fundamental principle of our nation: the amount of money a person has should not determine the quality of justice they receive.
Legal aid programs help ensure fairness in the justice system. Legal aid society of Milwaukee providers protect the rights of millions of people with low income each year in areas such as housing, consumer, family, education, and employment, and defend access to services for people of all backgrounds, including children, veterans, victims of domestic violence, the elderly, and those living with disabilities.
How Does Legal Aid Society Help?
Legal assistance is often the only lifeline available to people facing life-altering consequences, such as losing their homes, employment, or custody of their children. However, the form of assistance depends on the type of legal problem the client faces. Legal aid lawyers advocate for clients in various matters outside of court, litigate on their behalf in court, and often lead complex legal actions seeking systemic changes that affect large numbers of people facing similar circumstances.
Who Receives Legal Aid?
Despite dedicated advocacy by lawyers who often devote their careers to serving the needs of low-income people, programs are significantly under-resourced and often forced to prioritize serving the most disadvantaged clients on a limited number of matters affecting their most pressing legal needs. Even so, it is estimated that roughly half of the eligible people requesting assistance from legal aid programs must be turned away. Those who are served often receive brief advice and limited services. Those turned away must rely upon self-help resources and the provision of legal information, but even these resources are not available to all who need them.
Who Provides Legal Aid?
Legal aid society of Milwaukee providers vary in size and mission; some are locally focused or concentrate only on a specific issue (such as domestic violence or employment practices), while others may take cases from across a city or state with few restrictions on the issue area.
Additional funding sources for legal aid include private foundations and donations, state funding, often through state bar foundations, contracts and grants from federal, state, and local government entities, and cy pres awards.
Pro bono assistance from private attorneys is an invaluable adjunct to the services provided by staff-based legal aid programs. Moreover, pro bono practice is rapidly becoming institutionalized in private firms and corporate legal departments. However, the unmet need for civil legal aid is so great that only transformative change in the resourcing of America’s dedicated legal assistance structures will enable this country to provide access to justice for all.
With this federal funding, its grantees must meet certain restrictions on advocacy and client eligibility that are not placed on many other sources of funding for civil legal aid.