Legal Aid Services in the United States


As a way of improving the standard of lives of its people, the Leadership of Los Angeles offers them a number of legal aid services. The major targets are people with little or no income. This practice started in 1876 in New York City after the New York’s Legal Aid Society was reconstituted and reinstituted. Later, the federal government of the United States collected funds in 1965 to begin the Legal Services Program (LSP) through the Office of Economic Opportunity. The program was prompted by the need to assist the members of the public in the matters of justice and law, particularly those that were poor and could not afford to hire the services of a private attorney. This work investigates the history of the Legal Aid Services being provided for the people with little or no income and legal aid services available to the residence of the Los Angeles.

Recent Changes in Legal Aids and Services in Los Angeles

Since 1995, there have been major reforms undertaken in the LSP, and these changes have significantly transformed the legal aid providers’ landscape in many ways. Before the introduction of the fundamental reforms, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) that funded the civil legal assistance framework was mainly full-service (Houseman, 2001). Under this system, one geographical area was served by one legal full-service provider to ensure ease of access by the local population and to supply the indigents with quality services. In the current setting, two direct service providers have been introduced to replace the legal full-service providers within 16 states in the United States. The direct service providers operate throughout the state to cover all the geographical areas previously covered by the full-service ones.

Legal Aid Services Available to the Residents of the Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, the community members with little or no income seek free legal services assistance from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) (Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, 2015). The foundation was institutionalized to promote easy access to justice to the residents of Los Angeles. Its major aim is to bring equality in matters of justice between the rich and the poor. One more purpose is to fight discrimination against the poor citizens and to strengthen communities around Los Angeles. It is also committed to cause systemic transformation in the community through education, advocacy and representation. As a legal aid system, the foundation offers a wide range of legal services to the indigents such as criminal law, bankruptcy, employment law, domestic violence, real estate law, immigration law, family law, and public benefits.

The attorneys of LAFLA also help human trafficking victims who were transported to the United States and have found themselves as present day slaves, on legal matters. Such victims can seek justice in issues like being used in sweatshops, private homes, sex trade, and fields with little or no wages (Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, 2015). The foundation extends its assistance to survivors of torture through a project initiative that conducts community outreach in major areas of Los Angeles. Such communities register high demographics of refugees and asylum seekers from countries that experience torture to the United States. These countries include El Salvador, China, Bangladesh, Honduras, Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Somalia among others.

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One of the major legal services offered by LAFLA is immigration law. The attorneys that work is this area provide aid in family reunification issues to the permanent residents, citizens of the United States, asylum seekers, and refugees. The attorneys also assist immigration women who are victims of battering to flee from such domestic violence acts.

The second legal aid organization in Los Angeles is Harriet Buhai Centre for Family Law. It has a Pro per Program that is a legal program that has a purpose to provide justice to individuals with low-income in California and cannot afford a lawyer in a legal case. It basically consists of law students and volunteer attorneys that help the poor in solving problems such as custody and visitation, divorce, child support and paternity as well as domestic violence. It was the first legal program to be initiated in California. Now, the program serves as a model and enables the clients to continue what was begun concerning all the issues and decisions made by the court in an orderly and timely way. The clients also have the ability to be effectively represented in court and make all final decisions and cases.

There is also Pro Bono Panel Program that is aimed at mobilizing the services of the legal practitioners. The organization offers free legal representation to the indigents who cannot afford the finances to privately represent themselves through an attorney. Most of the clients are overwhelmed or scared and cannot individually be present in court proceedings due to disability, extreme abuse, and other similar issues.

Another legal aids firm in California is Levitt Quinn Family Law Center that provides help in representing the indigent families who have no financial means for legal aid from the traditional firms in trials and hearings. They also assist the low-income members of the society by giving legal counsel and advice in court issues that involve well being and safety of children. Other areas where they suggest free or subsidized legal services include visitation, domestic violence, support adoption, marital dissolution, custody, and paternity. Any fee charged depends on one’s assets of income, and this implies that the client must disclose all his or her financial information such as debts, income, expenses, and assets when applying for any legal help.

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The residents of Los Angeles who do not have the financial ability to hire the legal services of an attorney should not lose hope. There are several legal aids firms that offer free or subsidized legal assistance in matters that require representation in the court such as domestic violence, visitation, paternity, immigration, and other similar cases.

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