Civil legal aid organizations offer free services for pandemic-related needs
In addition to health and economic concerns, many Louisianans are facing legal issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Louisiana’s civil legal aid organizations continue to provide free legal services to low-income and other vulnerable people for legal needs arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic and other civil legal matters.
Louisiana’s civil legal aid organizations, Acadiana Legal Service Corporation (ALSC) and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS), have seen a steady flow of requests for critical civil legal needs and expect to see a dramatic increase in the coming months.
Though the nature of this disaster is different than a hurricane or flood, civil legal aid remains a critical and necessary component of the recovery process.
Many Louisianans are “newly poor” and have never experienced poverty or the disaster-related legal issues that accompany poverty. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a steady increase of legal issues such as hardships related to stable housing, safety from domestic violence, access to unemployment benefits and consumer debt collection issues.
Louisiana’s civil legal aid attorneys are working diligently to respond to the immediate needs, while preparing for an expected dramatic increase in the coming weeks and months.
Legal aid programs throughout Louisiana remain open to help, whether the legal problem is related to the current pandemic or not. While their offices are temporarily closed and in-person meetings limited to only emergency matters by appointment only to comply with stay-at-home orders, legal aid attorneys are busy working remotely and continue to represent clients in court through virtual hearings.
Even outside of court, legal aid programs continue to help clients through technology such as videoconferencing, hotlines, virtual legal clinics, phone calls and emails.
In the past month, approximately 1,000 individuals have visited the Louisiana Law Help website each day to access legal help and newly created information on hot topics developed by legal aid attorneys. Go to: https://louisianalawhelp.org.
Louisiana nonprofit civil legal aid programs have a long history of coordination which has strengthened their ability to collectively respond to this pandemic.
Legal aid programs throughout Louisiana encourage individuals who need legal information, legal help or referrals to contact:
• Acadiana Legal Service Corporation has offices in Shreveport, Monroe, Natchitoches, Alexandria, Lake Charles and Lafayette. People needing civil legal help should contact the office nearest them by referring to a phone book, web search for “legal aid” or visiting the website at https://www.la-law.org/.
• Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) has offices in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, Harvey, Houma and New Orleans as well as numerous outreach locations. People needing civil legal help should call the SLLS COVID-19 Legal Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 or should call the office closest to them. A list of SLLS offices and contact information is available online: https://slls.org/.
The Louisiana State Bar Association’s Access to Justice Commission supports the work of the Louisiana civil legal aid organizations to improve the state’s justice system and ensure access to justice for all. Civil legal aid ensures fairness in the justice system.
The Louisiana State Bar Association assists its more than 22,000 members in the practice of law. The statewide association, as part of its multi-faceted mission, promotes and maintains access to justice initiatives for the state’s residents, assists the Louisiana Supreme Court in its regulation of the practice of law, upholds the honor of the courts and the profession, and supports pro