What is civil legal aid?
"Equal justice under law is not merely a caption on the facade of the Supreme Court building, it is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society. It is one of the ends for which our entire legal system exists...it is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status."
- Lewis Powell, Jr., Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1972-1987
Civil legal aid is based on the principle that everyone in America is equal under the law. Too often, however, the way people are treated in the justice system depends on whether they can afford a lawyer who will help protect their basic rights. Civil legal aid provides free legal help with non-criminal problems such as evictions, foreclosures, domestic violence, unfair consumer practices, and access to disability benefits.
Civil legal aid:
- Assures fair access to justice for everyone, regardless of how much money they have
- Provides legal assistance in non-criminal cases to people who cannot afford a private attorney
- Educates clients about their rights and responsibilities
- Gives people access to information such as easy-to-follow legal forms
- Helps people to protect their livelihoods, their health, and their families
Benefits of Legal Aid to the Commonwealth
Legal aid benefits both clients and their communities by saving everyone money. In 2013, legal aid services generated an estimated $28 million in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, through new federal revenue, other benefits and cost savings.
“Most Americans don’t realize that you can have your home taken away, your children taken away and you can be a victim of domestic violence but you have no constitutional right to a lawyer to protect you.”
Jim Sandman, President,
Legal Services Corporation