Legal Aid Society Law and Legal Definition

A legal aid society is an organization whose purpose is to serve financially challenged people who need legal help, usually sponsored by the local bar association's donations, sometimes with some local governmental financial support. Such societies assess the financial condition of the applicant, decide if the person has a legitimate need for legal services, give counselling, provide mediation, prepare simple documents, and sometimes provide volunteer lawyers who give free legal assistance. Legal aid societies exist throughout the country. They focus on assistance in civil matters because indigent criminal defendants are constitutionally entitled to representation by a public defender or appointed private counsel paid by the government.

Examples of areas handled by legal aid societies include family law (including custody, visitation, child support, and domestic violence issues), landlord-tenant (including defending against evictions, as well as Section 8 and DCHA administrative proceedings), public benefits ( food stamps, Medicaid, or assistance for children) and special education cases. Some also provide social work assistance to legal clients.Some societies provide referral services to help a person find a suitable attorney, but normally referral is made by the local bar association.