The Legal Aid Society.
Legal aid societies are available in every state and most of the major cities in the nation. Their
purpose is to render legal aid to those who are unable to pay. Legal aid societies are usually sponsored
by the local bar association, with operating funds derived from private contributions. The chaplain
should obtain a copy of the legal aid directory from the Legal Aid Association and become familiar with
the resources of the Society.
Eligibility for aid. The concept that every person is entitled to equal treatment before the law
regardless of income is basic to the operation of the Legal Aid Society. An applicant for legal aid in
either criminal or civil matters must show that he or she is unable to afford the services of a competent
lawyer. Legal aid societies reserve the right to withdraw from a case at any time and will do so when
circumstances are altered to make the person an ineligible or undesirable client. Normally, application
for aid must be made in person. No legal information will be given over the telephone except to case
workers of recognized social agencies.
Types of cases handled. Below are listed a few typical cases that may be referred to the Legal
(1) Wages, small debts, installment contracts, wage assignments, garnishments, insurance and
breach of contract in small amounts.
(2) Attorney and client difficulties not grave enough for bar discipline.
(3) Small real estate matters; landlord and tenant cases that involve actual legal questions such as
personal property, conversion, detention and liens (except enforcement of mechanics liens)
where the amount is small.
(4) Small claims against estates, small accounting and similar services.
(5) Annulments, dissolutions and divorces where justified by sound social policy. Advice given
in separation cases. No case will be accepted where counsel fees can be obtained from the
(6) Adoptions and guardianships, custody of children, support claims of dependents.
(7) Drafting legal documents not involving large sums.