About Free Legal Services in Arkansas

Equal justice under law is not just a caption on the facade of the Supreme Court building. It is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society . . . It is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status. Justice Lewis Powell, Jr. - U.S. Supreme Court

Mission
The Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas are 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations that provide free legal services to low-income Arkansans in non-criminal cases, ranging from family to consumer and housing to individual rights cases. The Center serves 44 counties while LAA serves 31 counties.

Vision
Our vision is to improve the lives of low-income Arkansans by championing equal access to justice for all regardless of economic or social circumstances.

Primary Services
Together, the two programs provided legal services to 12,588 households in 2002, providing services in every county of the state. At the end of the year, there were 3,022 cases pending. Another 4,858 cases were rejected due to conflicts and other factors. An estimated 5,532 individuals called the HelpLine but no case was opened. This represents a total of 26,000 households with an estimated 57,058 members.

The two programs handle more domestic violence cases than any other single type of case. Victims of domestic violence are most likely to leave their abuser for good if they get a divorce and custody of their children. Examples of other types of cases include:

  • Family Law (e.g., custody, visitation, guardianships)
  • Elder Law e.g., creditors who try to garnish social security, housing issues)
  • Consumer Finance (bankruptcies, predatory lending)
  • Public Benefits (e.g., appeals of SSI denials), and
  • Landlord-Tenant or public housing cases.

The vast majority of clients contact the program through a statewide toll-free HelpLine, jointly operated by the two programs. Once financial eligibility is determined and a case opened, services may include:

  • Advice aimed at empowering the individual to resolve his or her own problem (71% of completed cases)
  • Brief service where an attorney or paralegal provides limited assistance to help the individual resolve their problem (e.g., send a letter or make a telephone call)
  • Full representation where a staff attorney or volunteer attorney from the private sector represents the client (21% of completed cases)

In addition, the two programs we also deliver services through this statewide website and community education, including clinics, workshops and the Online Legal Library.

 


Annual Reports
Learn more about the Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas by reading the joint annual reports below.

Also See: