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Recognizing a great need to provide legal services to Louisville's poor, several groups, most notably the Women's Club and the Louisville Bar Association, helped establish the Legal Aid Society in 1921. Among the founding members were Mrs. Alfred Brandeis and Mr. John Heyburn. The oldest of Kentucky's legal services programs, the Legal Aid Society's mission is to "pursue justice for people in poverty," which we accomplish by providing free, civil legal assistance.
In the late 1960s, our focus broadened to deal with the more systemic problems of people in poverty in addition to the sole service of individual client representation. In the 1970s, our efforts centered on impact litigation, class action and consumer protection. In 1978, Legal Aid became the designated recipient of Legal Service Corporation funds and expanded its services from Jefferson County to 14 surrounding counties that comprise a mix of suburban, urban and rural areas.
Equal access to justice is the unifying theme of civil legal assistance. That concept requires a civil legal assistance system that
provides equal access to the justice system without regard to a person's economic status. Mere access to services or advice, however, is not enough. The civil legal assistance provided must offer substantive advice and advocacy that achieves fair results. In short, legal services providers must be capable of offering legal help that meets the level of need.With the input and approval of our Board of Directors, we have established the following service priorities:
Each year the Legal Aid Society represents thousands of individuals or groups with incomes at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Due to limited resources, we are able to help only a fraction of low-income individuals in need. Last year we provided our services to 4,420 clients.