Established in 1966, Nassau/Suffolk Law Services was among the first Legal Services Corporation programs in the state and is currently one of the largest providers of free civil legal assistance in New York.
The program is committed to helping people in need vindicate their rights under the law. We provide free legal services in thousands of cases each year as well as legal support to church, agency and grass roots organizations that work with the poor.
Our mission is to provide quality legal services in civil matters in a manner that respects the individual dignity of low income and disabled individuals and helps insure that they are afforded the full protection and benefits of the law.
The staff is comprised of attorneys, paralegals, social workers and support staff. The social work component is a unique feature of the program and is based on the recognition that some of our clients may need special support and services to manage and deal effectively with the legal system.
For more information about Law Services. Please see Report 2012-2013
Specialists in Poverty Law
We are experienced poverty law specialists and from our beginnings, have specialized in cases dealing with the survival needs of poor people, involving shelter, food, health care and family issues.
Public benefit programs and the preservation of housing are priority areas. We help our clients combat the serious housing problems they face, especially relating to foreclosures, evictions and poor housing conditions. We are also committed to ensuring that government benefits, particularly public assistance, Medicaid, food stamps, SSI, and emergency services including temporary shelter, are provided fairly to those who are eligible.
Services For The Homeless
Owing to the serious problem of homelessness on Long Island, we have devoted a large portion of our resources to representing the homeless.
Three of our lawsuits, Sharp, Holmes and Golding, resulted in judicial orders to the Department of Social Services to supplement rental payments for homeless or near-homeless families as an alternative to the shelters. With thousands of families intervened in these lawsuits, Law Services became a major facilitator of affordable housing for low income people on Long Island. This litigation has evolved into the current institutionalized rent supplement programs through the Department of Social Services, including the Shelter Supplement Program (SSP).
Law Services in the Community
We have developed innovative programs that rely heavily on community education, outreach, and partnership with lay advocates.
The Legal Support Center for Advocates together with our direct service programs, provide extensive outreach, sponsor advocate and client training events, disseminate educational materials, and participate in corporate-sponsored and government-sponsored informational events.
The Law Services News, our agency newsletter, has a wide distribution and is supplemented by our free e-news feature, Legal Lessons. Interested individuals can subscribe to Legal Lessons by signing up on our homepage.
For most of our programs, eligibility is income-based. Most persons receiving benefits such as public assistance, SSI, Medicaid or food stamps are eligible. Others may be eligible depending on income, dependents, and factors such as medical expenses. Programs serving special populations such as cancer patients, senior citizens (Nassau only), and persons with mental illness or HIV/Aids, do not have financial eligibility guidelines although case acceptance depends on the program’s limited resources. Immigration status is a consideration as well. We do not accept criminal cases or cases which could generate a fee for a private attorney.
Law Services charges no fee for its services.
Since the early ’80s, Law Services has worked closely with the Nassau and Suffolk Bar Associations to increase the availability of legal services to low income Long Islanders. Our joint programs, the Pro Bono Project in Suffolk and the Volunteer Lawyers Project in Nassau, have recruited hundreds of private attorneys who provide representation without charge. These projects have greatly expanded our capacity and have become models for other pro bono programs throughout the country. Our volunteer attorneys handle a wide array of cases, concentrating on bankruptcies, matrimonial matters, and landlord/tenant cases.
Law Services is fortunate to have diversified government and private funding support. But individual supporters insure that programs and services survive during difficult economic times. Thank you for your donation and please tell your friends about us!