About Us
Program Services
Community Outreach
Self-Help Materials


Types of Cases Handled

Below is a list of cases handled by Northwestern Legal Services and its private attorney (pro bono) partners.  Limitation on the level of service for some types of cases are noted.  Funding, staffing or other issues arise which limit the types of cases we handle in certain local offices or program wide for periods of time.  These temporary disruptions are not reflected in this description of cases handled.  Representation in all cases is dependent on financial eligibility for free legal help, merit of the case and conflict of interest rules.  No representation for cases filed in a court outside the Northwestern Legal Services service area.


School Suspensions (legal advice only) & Expulsions
School Enrollment Problems (limited to advice only)
Alternative Education Hearings (Erie City School District)
Vocational Rehabilitation
Expungement of Criminal & Child Abuse Records to Secure or Maintain Employment (level of service depends on circumstances)
Secure Occupational Limited License (OLL) to Maintain Employment (limited services)


Medical Assistance (ACCESS Card) and Long Term Care:

- Denial of Coverage
- Termination of Coverage
- Level of Long Term Care Issues
- Request for Program Exception

Medicare Appeals
Medical Bill Collections (limited to legal advice only in most cases)
Nursing home involuntary discharge
Personal and Domiciliary care involuntary discharge
EPSDT (Early and Periodic Screening & Diagnosis and Treatment Program) denials and terminations
Advance Directives/Living Wills (limited to persons with serious illness)
Health Care Power of Attorney (limited to persons with serious illness)


Custody/Visitation (may be limited to legal advice and/or self-help materials)
Custody/Visitation Contempt (may be limited to legal advice and/or self-help materials)
Divorce/Separation (no fault/no property assets only.  Limited to advice and self help materials except two year separation, spouse location known cases from Erie County)
Domestic Violence/Protection From Abuse (final hearings & request for extensions)
Child Support (petitioners only, service limited to legal advice in most cases)
Adoptions (other birth parent agrees and spouse willing to adopt)
Name Changes (legal advice and self-help materials only)
Guardianships (only if needed to protect the health, shelter or financial well-being of ward.  Level of service depends on circumstances)
Emancipation of Minors (limited to legal advice in most cases)
Power of Attorney (limited to persons with serious illness)


Private Landlord Issues Including, but not Limited to: 
(level of service for private landlord issues depends on circumstances)

-  Evictions and Lockouts
-  Landlord Failure to Maintain and Repair Property
-  Disturbance of Tenant by Landlord or Others
-  Breach of Lease Issues
-  Lease Interpretation Questions
-  Property Seizure by Landlord
-  Hold Deposit and Security Deposit Problems

Public Housing
Subsidized Housing Section 8 and Project based  (level of service depends on circumstances)
Mortgage Foreclosure of Primary Residence (level of service depends on circumstances)
Land Sale Contracts/Articles of Agreement (level of service depends on circumstances)


If Denial or Termination Notice Received for all Programs Administered by the Department of Public Welfare:

- Cash Assistance (GA and TANF)
- Overpayment of Cash Assistance (level of service depends on circumstances)
- Special Allowances for Employment and Training
- Shelter Assistance
- Subsidized Child Care
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- SNAP Overpayment (level of service depends on circumstances)
- WIC Benefits
- Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
- State Blind Pension
- ACCESS Card (see health law issues)


If Denial/Termination or Overpayment Notice Received for the Following Programs Administered by the Social Security Administration:

- SSI Disability Initial Denial or Termination
- SSI/Social Security Disability Concurrent Claim Initial Denial or Termination
- Social Security Disability Termination
- Overpayments of SSI or Social Security Benefits
- Other Miscellaneous SSI and Social Security Issues


Initial UC appeal - Referee’s Hearing
Appeal to Unemployment Compensation Board of Review (UCBR)
Judicial Review of UCBR Decision
Overpayment Issues (level of service depends on circumstances)

CONSUMER LAW (cases limited to legal advice only unless otherwise noted)

Debt Collection Harassment
Civil Lawsuit for Money Owed (representation in Erie County under limited circumstances.  No business related lawsuits)
Repossession of Personal Property
Sheriff/Constable Sales and Garnishments
Student Loan Issues
Bankruptcy (only if necessary to protect property from a scheduled judicial sale/garnishment, maintain utility service or to preserve driving privileges)
Utility Termination


Suspension of Driving Privileges (Erie County only during initial 30-day appeal period)
Wills Preparation (under some circumstances)