Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

To achieve justice for low-income people in Louisiana by enforcing and defending their legal rights through civil legal aid, advocacy and community education.

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Category: Human Services
Parish: Orleans
Who We Are:
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services ("SLLS") provides free legal services to low-income clients across twenty-two parishes in Southeast Louisiana. We are the largest non-profit law firm in Louisiana. We have six offices in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, Harvey, Houma, and New Orleans. Our mission is to achieve justice through free civil legal aid to low-income people by direct case work, advocacy, and community education.

What We Do:
SLLS works daily to protect domestic violence victims from abuse, represents abused and neglected children in the foster care system, preserves housing for hard-working families, helps end homelessness for people with disabilities and veterans, protects elderly consumers, removes barriers to medical care, improves health outcomes, improves access to employment and education for vulnerable people, and so much more.

Our Impact:
The direct economic impact achieved for our clients in 2017 was over $23 million in increased income, benefits, and assets secured or protected. For every $1 invested in civil legal aid, there is nearly $9 in social return on investment. This includes healthcare, law enforcement, emergency services, justice reform, and other public cost savings. Our impact on lives saved through our domestic violence work, families stabilized, and abused children safeguarded through our Child in Need of Care Program is critically important, but difficult to measure. Our public information website, helped over 165,000 people access self-help resources and legal information in 2017. With the generous support of our funders, including Legal Services Corporation, Louisiana Bar Foundation, United Way, and donors like you, we helped over 27,000 people last year resolve civil legal problems to improve their lives and we empowered over 13,500 people with information about their legal rights through community legal education events.

Mr. D, 60, worked hard his entire life, was a proud homeowner with no debt on his home, and was looking forward to retirement. After he was badly injured in a work-related accident, Mr. D faced not not only the loss of his livelihood, but also his home. Due to serious medical problems, he could no longer work. His income was sharply reduced. Mr. D. could not afford to pay his bills and was buried in debt. Several credit card companies sued him, eventually putting a lien of about $6,000 on his home. Scared he might be forced into homelessness, Mr. D. reached out to an SLLS Consumer Law attorney for help. We helped him file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, clearing Mr. D's debts and removing the lien from his home. Now Mr. D can live out his retirement years happy and debt free!

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For each of our clients, like "Mr. R", we work to identify and address all civil legal barriers that could hinder their stability. When Mr. R served our country during the Vietnam War, he experienced many traumatic events including being provided drinking water that was later revealed to be contaminated. As a result, Mr. R developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, eventually, bladder cancer. After leaving the military, Mr. R worked as an artist until his medical conditions forced him to stop. With no stable income or family support, he became homeless. When we met Mr. R, he had just escaped the streets thanks to a housing voucher from the HOPE Center's SSVF Program. We learned that his sole source of support, Food Stamps, was about to be stopped due to a caseworker's error on his renewal application. SLLS immediately contacted the Food Stamps office. We explained the legal violations of withholding any Mr. R's funds because of their mistake. Within days, Mr. R's food stamps were reinstated. Shortly thereafter, SLLS was successful in getting both his veteran's pension and Social Security benefits approved. Now, Mr. R has a safe place to live, access to food, and an income to help him make his new house a home. We remain committed to helping Mr. R access the resources he needs to stay off the streets. We currently represent him in his VA service connected benefits case and are optimistic about its success.

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SLLS is dedicated to helping all people who have experienced domestic or partner violence through protective orders, handling divorce/custody, and other civil legal remedies to help them stay safe and become economically stable. "Julia" is a client we recently helped escape from her abusive partner. Not fluent in English and unable to work, her wealthy husband made her feel like she had no choice but to obey him and tolerate his beatings. When Julia tried to take control of her life, filing a protective order to escape his abuse, she learned that her ex had attempted to undermine her by filing for custody of their child. She found herself entangled in a complicated legal mess. She contacted SLLS for help. Our bilingual attorney fought for Julia, finally convincing the abuser to allow her to have primary custody rights. He also agreed to the issuance of a 12-month protective order, saving her from re-experiencing the trauma of her abuse in a full trial.