When I began working at Northwestern Legal Services 40 years ago, there were nearly 50 attorneys and paralegals in 8 offices representing low-income clients in our 10 county service area. Many fundamental due process rights which we now take for granted were still the subject of litigation in state and federal courts and administrative forums. Domestic violence laws were new, and the courts provided no assistance in filing these actions. Access to the courts by the poor was not assured.
Over the last several years, Northwestern Legal Services has suffered severe reductions in funding. Today, our program employs only 12 attorneys and 3 paralegals in six offices to do this work. While some of the legal needs of the poor have changed, the demand for representation continues to significantly outweigh our ability to provide services. Northwestern Legal Services works with domestic violence offices to assist victims of abuse in obtaining legal protection and other benefits and services to allow these victims to move forward. New citizens whose rights to disability benefits are threatened receive free representation. Homeowners facing foreclosure due to loss of jobs receive assistance, as do tenants who are being denied decent and safe housing. Pro se clinics are offered in the family law area, as well as telephone advice/brief service to help those low income clients who we are unable to serve fully because of our limited number of attorneys. Our program continues our mission to provide free legal assistance to low-income households who struggle to make ends meet and face daunting legal problems. We want to be able to offer more.
As we celebrate Law Day 2018, please consider making a charitable donation to Northwestern Legal Services. Our system of justice only works when clients have equal access to legal representation and counsel, regardless of their financial circumstances. Your donation will help us continue our advocacy for those who otherwise will have none.
Very truly yours,
Judith Wilson, Acting Executive Director
Northwestern Legal Services