For any family, basic survival depends on the ability to stay in a home, to secure food and other necessities, and to provide a safe and stable environment for children. Families with challenges in these areas may be torn apart or driven into poverty, with children often suffering the most. And without money to afford legal help, low-income citizens do not have equal access to justice.
Forty-eight years ago, the Tallahassee Bar Association took steps to meet the civil legal needs of low-income families in Leon County and formed the Legal Aid Foundation. TBA members manned the Leon County Courthouse basement office in rotating shifts, helping clients as they walked in.
Today, clients receive help from the Legal Aid Foundation through two main programs.
In the Pro Bono Program, lawyers represent clients on a volunteer basis in civil matters, approximately 60% of which are family law. In 2012, volunteer lawyers donated 4226 hours and closed 548 cases, providing over $950,000 in free legal services to low-income citizens and families in Leon County.
The Pro Se Program uses staff members to provide family law forms assistance to individuals representing themselves in a family law case. This program served over 360 clients last year.