New Haven Legal Assistance Association, Inc. (LAA) is a nonprofit organization that was incorporated on April 7, 1964 to "secure justice for and to protect the rights of those residents of New Haven County unable to engage legal counsel." LAA was one of the first legal services programs established and the federal government used it as a model for similar programs throughout the country. When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg opened LAA's first neighborhood office on May 1, 1965 (Law Day) he said, "I hope that we will see in city after city. . . programs such as this which will bring equal justice and dignity to all." More than 40 years later, LAA continues to provide free legal services to eligible individuals and families in the greater New Haven area.
One of my favorite quotes about equal justice comes from a 19th-century French writer, Anatole France: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." I appreciate his wry observation of the gulf between our perception that the scales of justice are in balance and the realities of being poor. More than 70 percent of low-income households have experienced at least one civil legal problem during the past year. Because there is no right to counsel in most civil legal cases, these folks are on their own. Unfortunately for them, our adversarial legal system is based on the idea that both sides to a conflict will have a lawyer by their side. If you do not have a lawyer, and the other side is a bank, a government agency or your abuser, the chances of obtaining a favorable outcome are not good. The chances of successfully accessing the legal system at all are even worse if you have low literacy, a disability, or limited English proficiency.
In a 1965 column, TIME Magazine described this state of unequal justice and reported on a promising new remedy: setting up storefront "neighborhood law offices" in low-income areas: “In New Haven last year, for example, the Ford Foundation financed the prototype New Haven Legal Assistance Association Inc.” For the last half-century New Haven Legal Assistance has tirelessly represented low-income people facing domestic violence, denial of government benefits, homelessness, utility shutoffs, wage theft and other legal problems related to basic human needs. In almost every case, our advocacy results in a better outcome for the client. In many cases, our advocacy has changed the law, a policy or a practice in a way that is better for low-income people.
an honor to serve as the Board Chair for New Haven Legal Assistance, Inc.
(LAA). LAA was incorporated in 1964 to "secure justice for and to
protect the rights of those residents of New Haven County unable to engage
legal counsel." The Ford Foundation made the original grant that funded
LAA. There was reportedly a debate about whether low income people were
in more need of access in their neighborhoods to legal or health
services. Lawyers beat out doctors by a narrow margin.
have much to be proud of. LAA today serves nearly 1,400 clients in 22
cities and towns in greater New Haven in the areas of child protection,
education law, family law, housing law, immigration, public benefits,
disability rights, and workers' rights. Over 98% of our clients are happy
with our work. Visit our website to hear directly from our clients about
the difference LAA has made in their lives.
has also made a lasting impact through our alumni. Hillary Rodham Clinton and
Clarence Thomas both worked here as law students. Fifteen of our staff
attorneys became judges.
the fall of 2014, we celebrated our 50th anniversary. Those 50 years have
brought many victories for assuring equal justice without regard to
wealth. Click on http://nhlegal.org/50th_anniversary
to read about our many landmark cases.
we are proud of our past, we face a challenging future. We can serve only a
small percentage of low income people who need legal advice. Our funding
from the State and from the judicial system is once again threatened with
significant reductions. More than ever, strong support from individuals
in the community who believe in equal access to justice is critical to our
being able to stand up for the rights of our clients. Please give generously.
Ben A. Solnit
•housing (includingfair housing)
We use a combination of individual representation, impactlitigation, policy advocacy and community legal education to improve the lives of poor people and to increase access to justice.
Our long-term goals are to ensure equal access to justice, to achieve long-lasting improvement in the rights and living conditions of our client community and to foster our clients' ability to protect their own rights.
Alexis Smith will be the interim executive director while the board conducts a search to hire a new ED.
We have many partners in the legal and social services communities. We regularly make client referrals between our organization and area social service, health and other providers. We belong to the Valley Council of Health and Human Services Agencies and the Milford United Way Council of Agency Executives.
We work in tandem with Connecticut's other legal services programs. We have statewide task forces for each of the substantive law areas in which we work, at which our advocates share information, co-counsel in some cases, and work together on policy initiatives. NHLAA, Connecticut Legal Services, Greater Hartford Legal Aid, Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut and the Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut share technology and other resources and make joint funding proposals for statewide legal projects.
We are also fortunate to have good partners in the Connecticut Judicial Branch and the private bar. We work with the Connecticut and New Haven County Bar Associations on educational and pro bono initiatives. Our Executive Director is a member of the Judicial Branch's Access to Justice Commission, its Pro Bono Committee and participates on the Judicial Branch's web board as a liaison between the branch and Connecticut's legal aid programs.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Five years after the IOLTA crisis, we now have a more diverse income. In 2007, IOLTA revenues made up nearly 75% of our income. In our 2013 budget, IOLTA represents about 10% of our income, with the balance coming from court filing fees, court awards, state and federal grants and contracts, grants from private foundations and support from private donors. We still face some funding challenged, including court filing fee revenues coming in lower than projected, the sunset of the second filing fees bill and possible cuts to our federal funding due to sequestration. To provide more stability for the future, we are working on building up our reserves while maintaining the current level of services.
This profile has been read by Foundation staff and the organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Foundation in the last five years then please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon.
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