Legal Aid Society photograph circa 1930's.
Recognizing a great need to provide legal services to Louisville's low-income community, 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. Jennie 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 address more systemic problems of people in poverty in addition to individual client representation. In the 1970s, our efforts centered on impact litigation, class actions, and consumer protection and a continued focus on commonly recurring legal issues in the low-income community. 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 help and advocacy that achieves fair results. In short, legal services providers must be capable of offering legal help that meets the level of need in the community.
With the input and approval of our Board of Directors, we have established the following service priorities:
Support for Families,
Preserving the Home,
Maintaining Economic Stability,
Safety, Stability, and Health, and
Populations with Special Vulnerabilities.
Each year the Legal Aid Society represents thousands of low-income individuals in need. In 2019, we closed nearly 5,000 civil legal cases. This equates to 4,333 unique clients.