SLLS 50th Anniversary Justice is Golden Exhibit Program Book


The Justice is Golden exhibit at the Louisiana Supreme Court Museum commemorates the 50th anniversary of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services. The exhibit looks back at the past 50 years of the organization's work to fight for fairness for low-income people in Southeast Louisiana and looks forward to the future of our continuing work to increase access to justice for everyone.

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

50th Anniversary Year Exhibit

Justice is Golden

Celebrating Fifty Years of

Fighting for Fairness for Vulnerable People

November 1967- October 2018

Justice is Golden

This law-related education exhibit was made possible by

the generous support of the Louisiana Bar Foundation.


Justice is Golden


Legal aid programs provide assistance that keeps faith

with one of America’s core values, equal access to justice,

changing the lives of low-income people and improving

communities. Locally, Acadiana Legal Services and

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) deliver civil

legal help to thousands of our most vulnerable community

members. On a daily basis, legal aid lawyers prevent the

loss of shelter, income, personal safety, medical care,

family stability, and other human rights. An Economic

Impact Study released by the Louisiana Bar Foundation

in 2017 found that for every $1 invested in civil legal

aid, there is $8.73 of social return on investment

through immediate and long-term benefits as well as

taxpayer savings. Providing civil legal aid is not just

the right thing to do, it simply makes sense.

– Chief Justice

Bernette Joshua Johnson

I am especially honored to welcome you to the “Justice is GoldenExhibit as I was a legal aid attorney

early in my career managing the Lower Ninth Ward office of the New Orleans Legal Assistance

Corporation (NOLAC), SLLS’ predecessor in the New Orleans area. Back then, NOLAC was dubbed “an

experiment” in a 1970 Times Picayune news article attracting legal minds “all motivated by a desire

to assist the poor.” Despite a difficult start, constant funding challenges, efforts to dismantle the

program, and the overwhelming legal needs of Louisiana’s high poverty population, civil legal aid has

helped ensure a more just society.

This Exhibit commemorates SLLS50th Anniversary and its impact over the past five decades. Key

to that success is SLLS’ dedicated staff, volunteers, board, and partners. Strong support from the

judiciary, practicing lawyers, bar associations, elected officials, law schools, the philanthropic

community, and other stakeholders has been critical to its achievements. Though much remains to

be done, we can all be proud of advancements in justice through the work of Louisiana civil legal aid

programs. I hope you enjoy this Exhibit reflecting on SLLS’ history, as we focus together on laying a

strong foundation to increase access to justice for the next fifty years.

Aaron & Gianna, PLC

Association of Corporate

Counsel –La.

Baker Donelson

88 Farmers Market

Kim Boyle

Heller, Draper, Patrick, Horn &

Dabney, LLC




Golden Defenders of Justice

Adams & Reese LLP

Herman Herman & Katz LLC

Jones Walker

Arlene and Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation

Whitney Bank

Baptist Community Ministries

Barrasso Usdin Kupperman

Freeman & Sarver, L.L.C.

BN Group

Entergy Services, Inc.

Gordon Arata Montgomery


Jane Johnson & David Marcello

Kean Miller LLP

Silver Patrons of Justice

Baton Rouge Area Foundation • Capital One Bank • Phelps Dunbar LLP

Bronze Allies of Justice

King Krebs & Jurgens

R.L. Landreneau, Jr.

Le Croissant d’ Or

Liskow & Lewis

Louisiana Association of

Defense Counsel

Louisiana State Bar Association

Loyola University N.O.

College of Law

LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center

McGlinchey Stafford, PLC

Christopher Ralston

Friends of Justice

Kim Tam Jewelry

New Orleans Bar Association

New Orleans Bar Foundation

Simon Peragine Smith

& Redfearn

Southern University Law Center

Stone Pigman Walther Wittman

Mark & Monica Surprenant

Taylor Porter

Tulane University Law School

United Way of

Southeast Louisiana

R. Patrick & the Hon.

Sarah S. Vance

Walters, Papillion, Thomas,


O’Bryon & Schnabel

Optima Eye Care LLC




R. Patrick Vance & Darrel Papillion

Lila Arsan*

Angela Bazile

Valerie Bargas

Mary Barrios*

David F. Bienvenu

Dennis Blunt

The Hon. Bernadette D’Souza

Kurt Duncan

Dean Thomas Galligan

Charmel Gauldin

Vivian Guillory*

Rita Gue

Ashely Aubrey Harrison

Jan Hayden

Steven Herman

Michael Hill*

Jay Jalenak*

Regina Joseph*

Dean Madeleine Landrieu

Brandt Lorio*

Kerrie Long*

Judy Perry Martinez

Warren McKenna III*

Dean David Meyer

Joel Miller*

Monte Mollere

Letita Parker-Davis*

John Pearce

Darryl Phillips

Chancellor John Pierre

William Quigley

Christopher Ralston*

The Hon. Kern Reese

Lauren Davey Rogers

Marta-Ann Schnabel

Stacy Seicshnaydre

The Hon. Ray Steib

Mark Surprenant*

Paul Tabary*

Rolando Urbina*

Jennifer Van Metre*

Claudette Warren*

Michael Williamson

Rachel Wisdom

The Hon. Lisa Woodruff-White

Patrick Yancey*

The Hon. Jay Zainey

* SLLS Board Member




the LOUISIANA BAR FOUNDATION for its support of the “Justice is GoldenExhibit,

the SLLS 50th Anniversary Advisory Committee,


and URVI PATEL for their unwavering dedication helping

SLLS Commemorate our 50TH Anniversary Year


for their December 2013 Article “Securing Equal Justice for All: A Brief History of Civil Legal Assistance

in the United States” relied upon extensively as a reference for our Exhibit.

The Early Days of Legal Aid

In 1919, Reginald Heber Smith, a young Harvard Law School graduate, received a grant to research

the legal system and its effect on the poor. The result was a book entitled Justice and the Poor, which

challenged the legal profession to ensure that access to justice was available to all without regard to the

ability to pay. The American Bar Association (ABA) responded to this call by devoting a section of its 1920

annual meeting to the concept of “legal aid.” It created the still existing Standing Committee on Legal Aid

to ensure the ABA’s involvement in the delivery of legal assistance to the poor.

State and local bar associations responded by sponsoring new legal aid programs. The programs were

loosely connected under a network which eventually became known as the National Legal Aid and Defender

Association. Most were in urban areas operating in isolation with small staffs and volunteers. During

the early years, less than 1% of indigent clients were served with approximately one attorney per every

120,000 low-income people.

Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress, FSA/OWI Collection/Yale University Press

Photographer Ben Shahn- Depression Era Photo of People Waiting in Line

Louisiana lawyers have long responded to the legal needs of the poor through volunteer service and

support for civil legal aid. Organized programs date back to the Depression Era when the private bar

mobilized to help struggling families. The New Orleans Bar Association (NOBA) had lines of low-income

people stretched around the block waiting to see volunteer attorneys. NOBA almost lost its lease due to

the high traffic. Several NOBA members founded the Legal Aid Bureau on June 10, 1935 with a shoestring

budget later funded by the United Way of Southeast Louisiana. It provided civil legal aid through a small

staff with 90% of its work in family law. The need far outpaced available resources.

The War on Poverty & Legal Aid

“The War on Poverty” is the unofficial name for legislation introduced by President Lyndon B. Johnson in

his 1964 State of the Union address in response to a 19% national poverty rate. This led Congress to pass

the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act establishing the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO). OEO funds

were used for initiatives like Head Start, VISTA, and Job Corps. That same year, Edgar and Jean Cohn wrote

a seminal article for the Yale Law Journal arguing that neighborhood law offices were necessary for an

effective anti-poverty program. Sargeant Shriver, OEO’s first Director, agreed to earmark legal aid as an

eligible service for OEO funds.

In New Orleans, a group of attorneys founded a nonprofit law firm on November 6, 1967 called the New

Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation (NOLAC) to apply for OEO funding. Their vision was a law firm to

advocate for the rights of the poor just as private law firms do for their clients. The original NOLAC Board

of Directors was:

Milton E. Brener

Mary Ellen Hamilton

Robert Nicholas

Nils R. Douglas

Harold Haughton

Hon. Revius O. Ortique, Jr.

John P. Dowling

Harry Howard

Bettye Parker

Marcel Garsaud

Benjamin J. Johnson

Benjamin E. Smith

J.C. Green

Jerry Mashaw

A.J. Waechter, Jr.

George J. Gulotta

Hon. Ernest “Dutch” Morial Addie Watson

Hon. James C. Gulotta

John P. Nelson, Jr.

NOLAC opened its doors in May 1968 with six neighborhood offices scattered across New Orleans, later

expanding to cover five parishes. Most offices were staffed by up to five attorneys with a few support staff.

NOLAC handled family law, landlord-tenant, consumer problems, benefits, and employment law matters

for individual clients. It also had an active Law Reform Unit and a robust class action practice resulting

in significant systemic social justice victories.

Birth of the

Legal Services Corporation (LSC)

By 1971, the idea of an independent national legal services entity began to take root. A bill to create the

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) “immune to political pressures and a permanent part of our system of

justice” was proposed. The bill was vetoed. In 1973, the Nixon Administration proposed a new bill. In the

end, 24 restrictions were added limiting the types of cases that could be taken, restricting lobbying and

rulemaking, limiting class actions, and eliminating funding for training centers. After extensive wrangling,

the bill became law on July 25, 1974 as the Legal Services Corporation Act of 1974. It was one of the last

bills Nixon signed before resigning.

The LSC Act created a private, nonprofit corporation controlled by an independent bipartisan Board

appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. It received federal funding from Congress to

make grants to local programs throughout the country under an organized national framework. It also

had responsibility to ensure its grantees were complying with restrictions. Distinguished Louisiana jurist

Justice Revius Ortique, Jr., one of NOLAC’s founding Board members, was appointed to the first LSC Board.

LSC funding provided resources to support the opening of nine different civil legal aid providers across

Louisiana. A “minimum access” plan was developed with the goal of two lawyers for every 10,000 poor

people based on federal poverty guidelines. For the first time ever, all 64 Louisiana parishes were served

by a legal aid office, though legal needs continued to outpace available resources and program capacity.

By 1981, LSC was funding 325 programs in the states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin

Islands, Micronesia, and Guam.

Acadiana Legal Service Corp.

Lafayette, LA

Kisatchie Legal Services Corp.

Natchitoches, LA

. .

Northwest LA Legal Services

Shreveport, LA

Capital Area Legal Services Corp.

Baton Rouge, LA

New Orleans Legal Asst. Corp.

New Orleans, LA



Southeast Louisiana Legal Services

Hammond, LA

Legal Services of Central LA

Alexandria, LA






North LA Legal Services

Monroe, LA

Southwest LA Legal Services,

Lake Charles, LA

Social Justice Victories

Lead to Backlash

LSC programs had major impacts on laws affecting the rights of low-income people. Victories were won

in state and federal appellate courts including the United States Supreme Court, regarding constitutional

rights of the poor. Nationwide, LSC attorneys won landmark decisions while developing a body of poverty

law still relied upon today.

From 1968 to 1992, NOLAC successfully handled dozens of class actions resulting in social change and

million dollar verdicts. One of its most famous cases was Cook v. Ochsner Foundation Hospital, et. al,

61 F.R.D. 354 (E.D. La. 1972) which asserted that eight local hospitals in the New Orleans area were

discriminating against African-American patients in the provision of medical care. After years of complex

litigation, Cook v. Ochsner established the right of the poor to access free care in 18 federally financed

hospitals in the city and the nation. Its racial discrimination challenge resulted in a federal investigation,

charges, and remedial plans by three major New Orleans hospitals.

NOLAC filed class actions against housing authorities for defective living conditions, denial of due process

in the tenant grievance process, remediation of lead-paint in public housing, and improper tenant utility

allowances. NOLAC sued school boards on behalf of special needs children to ensure special education

rights and challenged unfair admission policies.

NOLAC sued the State to require it to process

food stamp applications within 30 days, to

provide compensation for unnecessary delays,

and to recalculate thousands of applications

when an improper eligibility formula was used.

While not exhaustive, examples of other class

actions involved consumer rights, juvenile

detention, Medicaid claim processing, rights for

domestic violence victims, and a decision finding

that “tacking” service without mail service also is

unconstitutional in eviction cases.

Restricting the Activities of

Civil Legal Aid

From 1970-1980s, significant class action victories, legislative advocacy, and representation of

undocumented immigrants by legal services programs created a backlash. These activities became a

contentious topic in Congress. With the election of President Reagan, LSC’s future was in crisis as he

sought to eliminate it. Though the program was not defunded, LSC’s budget was slashed by 25%. The

Administration also began replacing the LSC Board. By the end of 1982, LSC Board members had been


From the 1980s to 1996, more restrictions were placed on the types of cases LSC programs could handle

and who could be helped. The role of LSC funded programs was severely limited in legislative advocacy or

rulemaking activities. Representation of undocumented immigrants was virtually eliminated. Class action

representation against government agencies or others was prohibited. Programs could not take on cases

challenging welfare reform, selective service, or engage in grass roots advocacy. Attorney fees obtained by

programs had to be sent to LSC.

New regulations to involve the organized bar in the governance and delivery of civil legal aid were

established. This included requiring that a majority of each local LSC funded program’s Board of Directors

be lawyers appointed by either state or local bar associations. Efforts to involve private attorneys in civil

legal aid were launched.


Civil Legal Aid Powered by Pro Bono

LSC funded civil legal aid programs rely primarily on staff attorneys, but early on were also encouraged

to voluntarily create pro bono programs and support private attorney involvement (PAI). In the 1980s, the

ABA led an unprecedented effort to prevent the Reagan Administration from eliminating LSC funding. It

adopted a resolution urging Congress to “mandate the opportunity for substantial involvement of private

lawyers in providing legal services to the poor.” By 1984, LSC adopted regulations requiring all grantees to

devote 12.5% of their LSC funding to annual support of pro bono and PAI activities.

In 1986, NOLAC provided seed funding to start the New Orleans Pro Bono Project. Other Louisiana pro bono

programs began or grew with the infusion of LSC funds in Baton Rouge, Alexandria, and Shreveport. Today,

SLLS provides sub-grants to the Pro Bono Project in New Orleans and the Baton Rouge Bar Foundation to

provide free legal assistance to about 1,000 vulnerable clients every year. These investments have laid the

foundation for additional pro bono partnerships to expand access to justice using non-LSC funds.

Pro Bono


– June 2017

Shreveport Bar Foundation Pro Bono Project

Southwest Pro Bono

Lafayette Parish Bar Foundation/Pro Bono Project

Central Louisiana Pro Bono Project

The Pro Bono Project

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services’ North Shore Pro Bono Project

Baton Rouge Bar Foundation Pro Bono Project

SLLS has further expanded pro bono. It created an in-house North Shore Pro

Bono Project through a Louisiana Bar Foundation Community Partnership Panel

grant, an incubator attorney partnership serving domestic violence victims with

the LSBA LIFT program, has a panel of volunteer lawyers for our Low-Income

Taxpayer Clinic, works with the Martinet Society of Greater Baton Rouge to handle

pro bono cases, and partners with the LSBA Young Lawyers and the Louisiana


Justice is Golden

Chapter of Corporate Counsel on “Wills for Heroes” programs. LSC’s new Pro Bono

Innovation Fund (PBIF) 2015 grant stream allowed SLLS to start a Medical-Legal

Partnership project. A 2017 PBIF Transformation grant will help us enhance our

pro bono program to make it the best it can be in the 21st century.

Law School Partnerships Expand

Access to Justice

Since its inception, SLLS has proudly worked with law schools

and law students to expand access to justice. Activities include

summer clerkships, externships, law clinics, alternate break

volunteer opportunities, training efforts, and post-graduate

Fellowships. Every year, over 10,000 law student hours are

contributed to SLLS’ work on behalf of vulnerable people.

Illustrative examples of law school partnerships include:

2017 Gillis Long Graduates for Justice

Loyola University New Orleans College of Law

– “Graduates for Justice

The Gillis Long Poverty Law Center affiliated with Loyola University’s

New Orleans College of Law has been a strong supporter of SLLS

for decades. Their latest program provides paid post-graduate

internships. The Graduates for Justice program offers full-time, short-term employment to recent graduates

waiting for summer bar exam results. Postgraduate interns work for eight weeks with local civil legal aid

offices gaining valuable legal experience and skills while assisting vulnerable people in our community.

SLLS is honored to be a partner in this new one-of-a-kind initiative filling a service gap.

LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center

– “Flood Proof” Successions & Title Clearing Clinic

Following the 2016 flood in Baton Rouge, SLLS formed and led a five member collaborative partnership

including the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. Working with SLLS, LSU created its first Succession Clinic

to help flooded homeowners obtain clear title to heir property so they can receive recovery funding. Since

the project’s inception, 106 flooded homeowners have received free legal help to unlock $3,045,763 in

recovery funds or other economic benefits. The Clinic works to help low-income people get the legal proof

needed to show they own their home typically a requirement to get FEMA funds, insurance proceeds, loans,

or rebuilding resources.

Southern University Law Center – NITA Public Service Trainings

In 2016, SULC partnered with SLLS to offer staff training through an innovative National Institute of Trial

Advocacy (NITA) program. Under NITA’s new Public Service program, 32 public interest lawyers were paired

with 16 SULC students for an intensive free four-day training. This training gives students interested in

public service careers an edge while also sharpening the skills of civil legal aid attorneys. SULC was one

of the first law schools in the country to participate in the NITA Program. The program was repeated in

2017 and is on track for a 2018 session. SLLS is also proud to partner with SULC on a number of projects

including its Succession Clinic as part of our “Flood Proof” project.


Tulane University Law Center

– Lutz Fellowships Expand Service to Victims of Abuse

Since 2014, six recent Tulane Law School graduates have started their practice while filling civil legal

services gaps for victims of domestic violence, child abuse/neglect, and disasters. Through a gift from

corporate attorney Laurent C. Lutz, a 1986 Tulane Law School graduate, the law school and SLLS share the

cost of one year Fellowships. Mr. Lutz, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary

of Sallie Mae, says in creating the fellowship, he and his family hoped to “give new Tulane lawyers

opportunities to follow their aspirations to help others,” with a focus on improving children’s lives. SLLS

has been fortunate to retain each Lutz Fellow on staff at the end of their Fellowship.

Mergers Change the Landscape

of Civil Legal Aid

Beginning in 1998, LSC promoted efforts to merge and reconfigure basic field programs. This move away

from local control to fewer programs serving much larger geographic areas, permanently changed the way

legal aid was delivered. By 2016, mergers reduced LSC funded programs from 325 to 133.

In 2003, NOLAC merged its five parishes (Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. Bernard and Plaquemines)

with SLLS’ five parishes (Tangipahoa, St. Helena, St. Tammany, Washington, and Livingston) and began

operating under the SLLS name. Similar consolidations took place in other parts of the state. By 2010,

only four Louisiana LSC funded programs existed – Acadiana Legal Services, Capital Area Legal Services,

Legal Services of North Louisiana, and SLLS. In July 2011, SLLS assumed responsibility for civil legal aid in

twelve more parishes in the Baton Rouge and Houma areas from Capital Area Legal Services.

Louisiana Legal Services Network

As of January 1, 2017, there are two LSC funded programs here as compared to the nine programs that

originally served the state in the early years. Acadiana Legal Services took over Legal Services of North

Louisiana and now covers forty-two parishes with SLLS serving the other twenty-two. Both programs serve

50% of Louisiana’s poverty population, the second highest poverty rate in the United States. Both SLLS and

Acadiana have six offices each scattered throughout the state.

State Planning Strengthens

Access to Justice

As legal aid programs across the country faced decreased federal funding, the need for strategic state

level planning to strengthen the delivery network became paramount. In response, many states formed

entities, typically called Access to Justice Commissions or Access to Justice Committees, composed of

prominent justice community stakeholders to focus jointly on identified justice problems in their state.

The Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA) Access to Justice (ATJ) Committee was established in 1996 to

consolidate two already existing LSBA committees (the Legal Services Committee and the Volunteers in

Public Service Committee). To support its work, the LSBA created a staffed Access to Justice (ATJ) Program.

The ATJ Program is a joint effort of the Louisiana Bar Foundation, the Louisiana State Bar Association and

the Louisiana Legal Services Programs. The ATJ Program dedicates personnel to support ongoing activities

of the non-profit civil legal aid organizations in their efforts to provide access for indigent people to

the court system. Over the years, it has also taken on independent efforts to address the unmet need of

Louisiana’s indigent population.

By order of the Louisiana Supreme Court, signed September 17, 2015, the Louisiana Access to Justice

Commission was created and continues the work of the long-standing LSBA ATJ Committee to pursue a

coordinated and systemic approach to ensuring the public’s access to the legal system. Its mission is

to “assure continuity of policy and purpose in the collaboration between the private bar, the courts, and

the civil justice community so as to further the goal of assuring that Louisianans, regardless of their

economic circumstance, have access to equal justice under the law.” Upon consultation with the Chief

Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, the LSBA President appoints twenty-one members with diverse

backgrounds with a proven commitment to access to justice in Louisiana. The representative membership

of Louisiana’s Justice Community stakeholders brings an increased involvement by judges, clerks of court,

the business community, and others to nearly two decades of collaboration between the LSBA and the

Louisiana Supreme Court on Access to Justice efforts.

Hurricane Katrina and its Aftermath


Hurricane Katrina was the biggest crisis in SLLS’ history.

60% of staff lost their homes with 100% displaced six

weeks or more. 1/3 never returned. The New Orleans

SLLS office was out of commission for 10 weeks. The

Chalmette office was destroyed. Within days of the storm,

SLLS opened a disaster hotline and temporary office run

by six displaced SLLS staff stationed at Legal Services of

North Louisiana.

70% of homes and businesses in New Orleans received severe damage with hundreds of thousands of

residents evacuated or made homeless. Through the generosity of the private bar, law schools, students,

foundations, and the general public, resources to help meet swelling legal needs were available. Then

Co-Executive Director Mark Moreau said, “It was our darkest, yet finest hour.” For its sustained record of

excellence after Katrina, SLLS received an ABA Hodsen Award. It was the only civil legal aid program to

receive a special award from HUD for its post-Katrina housing advocacy work.

Pictured Left to Right - Mark Moreau, SLLS Co-Executive

Director, Maritza Katz, Staff Attorney, and Brian Lenard, SLLS

Co-Executive Director mucking out flooded Chalmette office

Highlights of Katrina

Related Impact Work

SLLS corrected a problem on a national scale - the Disaster Housing Assistance Program included food

stamps as income when setting rents. SLLS advocacy with HUD fixed the problem for 31,000 people with

an estimated benefit of $10 million.

A HUD landlord displaced 300 families to charge higher rent. SLLS advocated with HUD to get it to approve

Tenant Protection Vouchers and relocation assistance to them plus an additional 1,500 families from 12

more HUD developments. The value of this was $5 million annually.

HUD stopped rent assistance to more than 600 families suspected of getting duplicate housing benefits.

SLLS persuaded HUD to reinstate rent checks. Further investigation contradicted the initial assessment.

Most were found not to be “double dipping”.

SLLS helped over 1,500 disaster-impacted homeowners obtain over $72 million in Road Home recovery

funding by clearing title to informally passed down heir property. From 2007-2008, SLLS alone performed

26% of all title clearing work done by all LSC programs.

SLLS handled more than 1,100 FEMA claims obtaining over $8 million in FEMA recovery funding to help

stabilize their lives.

Funding Challenges


Nationally, LSC is the single largest funder of civil legal aid. Over the past seven years, Louisiana legal

services program have had a 39% drop in LSC federal funding levels. In fiscal year 2011, Louisiana civil

legal services programs were funded at approximately $9.7 million compared to fiscal year 2017 levels of

about $5.9 million.

Yet the unmet legal needs of low-income people remains high. A 2017 LSC Justice Gap Report found that

86% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans in the past year received inadequate

or no legal help. Despite this, the current Administration proposed elimination of LSC from the federal

budget. In response, the ABA, law school deans, corporate counsel from Fortune 500 companies, partners

from over 200 of the largest law firms, bar associations, prominent jurists, and many others opposed this

proposal. Strong bipartisan support in Congress has resulted in ongoing LSC funding, though there will

likely be future efforts to defund LSC.



LA’s Portion of LSC Funding






2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

The proportion of LSC funding in SLLS’ budget has dropped from

100% in the early years to 43% today. Federal funding for civil

legal aid is not the only challenge. Louisiana is one of only four

states which receive no state funding dedicated to civil legal aid.

Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) funds, since 1988 the

second largest resource for most civil legal services programs,

faced plummeting revenues over the past few years due to falling

interest rates.

SLLS 2017 Funding

Federal Funding 17%

Foundations 33%

LSC 43%

Filing Fees 6%

Fundraising 1%

Technology Opens New Frontiers

Advances in technology combined with shrinking funding have driven innovations in technology. Limited

assistance can now be made available to large numbers of people cost-effectively. Recognizing this, LSC

began a new grant making stream through its Technology Initiative Grants (TIG). Since 2000, $57 million

has been awarded to 670 projects. TIGs have supported the development of legal education websites, selfhelp

resources, apps for mobile devices, and referral systems making legal help easily available to the

public. TIG’s facilitate a wide array of projects harnessing the power of technology to support equal justice.

In 2002, SLLS received its first TIG to create a public information website called In 2016, over 143,000 unique visitors obtained selfhelp

forms, legal information, or referrals from the site. Since the site is almost 15

years old, we are excited to revamp it to better assist our community. A new 2017

LSC TIG will provide the means to upgrade the site.

Over the past decade, SLLS has become a leader in using technology to expand civil legal aid resources to

more people. Recent projects include:

• Video training resources for staff and volunteers

• Statewide online intake available 24 hours per day/7 days per week

• Making mobile-friendly

• Creating a Spanish language mirror site for

• Using document assembly systems to create fillable self-help forms for common legal problems

SLLS was also pleased to partner with the ABA Center for Innovation

and Stanford University Law School after the Great Flood of 2016

to create a mobile phone app called “Flood Proof.” The app makes

it easier for disaster survivors and their attorneys to get legal

help, triage cases, and share documents in title clearing cases.

Disasters & Civil Legal Aid

“First Boots on the Ground, then Suits on the Ground”

Over the past twelve years, southeast Louisiana has weathered eight presidentially-declared disasters

- Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike, Isaac, the March 2016 Flood, the Great Flood of 2016, 2017 New

Orleans East Tornadoes - and the BP Oil Spill. When disaster strikes, SLLS works closely with the LSBA

Disaster Committee, the ABA Young Lawyer’s Division, LSC, the Louisiana Civil Justice Center, and other

partners to implement effective disaster response. Preparing for and responding to disaster law problems has

unfortunately become “business as usual.” We know “first come boots on the ground, then suits on the ground.”

In 2016, 51 of 64 Louisiana parishes were included in presidentially declared disaster areas from two major

floods. Through the generous support of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, the W.J. Kellogg Foundation,

the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Capital Area United Way, the Legal Services Corporation, AARP, the

Louisiana Bar Foundation, a Tulane Law School Lutz Fellowship, Baptist Community Ministries, Equal

Justice Works, and the Greater New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness, SLLS mounted a

significant disaster legal response. We are very grateful for this outpouring of support. We are thrilled that

the United Way of Southeast Louisiana is providing a significant investment in the fall of 2017 to support

civil legal aid for still recovering North Shore disaster victims.

In February 2017, SLLS was included on a panel at an LSC Congressional Briefing to speak about the role

of civil legal aid in disasters. We recently provided disaster law training to over 1,200 civil legal aid and

volunteer attorneys to help them respond to the legal needs of Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria

disaster survivors. SLLS is also working with a state recognized tribe to provide legal assistance through

a lengthy relocation process related to frequent disasters. The tribe, dubbed by the media as the first

“climate change refugees,” is losing its ancestral land as it gradually sinks into the Gulf of Mexico.

Self Help Desks Help Address

Unrepresented Litigant Crisis

Near 2010, with shrinking funding for civil legal aid, the number of self-represented litigants rose to

as high as 65% in many courts across the country including Louisiana. The civil justice system found

it needed new ways to provide some level of help for people without an attorney especially in family law

cases. Local courts in partnership with civil legal aid, bar associations, and other organizations started

self-help Desks or courthouse kiosks with self-help resources.

In Louisiana, civil legal aid and pro bono programs

began operating self-help Desks

several years ago. These desks now

serve thousands of people annually.

SLLS usually locates the self-help desks

it operates in rural areas where it does

not have an office or where it runs a pro

bono project. Through the support of the

Louisiana Bar Foundation, the United Way

of Southeast Louisiana, and the United

Way of St. Charles Parish, SLLS started

pilot self-help Desks. These and other

resources have allowed SLLS to continue

operations beyond initial startup.

SLLS’ Self-Help desks include:

• Washington Parish Self-Help Desk in Partnership with the 22nd Judicial District

• St. Tammany Parish Self-Help Desk in Partnership with the 22nd Judicial District

• Lafourche Parish Self-Help Desk in Partnership with the 17th Judicial District

• St. Charles Parish Self-Help Desk in Partnership with the 29th Judicial District

• Jefferson Parish Domestic Violence Project in Partnership with the 24th Judicial

District Self-Help Desk and the Pro Bono Project

Photo Courtesy of the Daily Comet - Houma Today, Staff Photographer Abby Taylor

- People Gathered Outside the Lafourche Parish

Courthouse in Thibodaux, Louisiana

Strategic Collaborations

for Collective Impact

Effective legal interventions often require the collaboration of multiple partners to achieve maximum

impact. Strategic partnerships draw on the strengths of different agencies working towards a common

goal. SLLS is proud to lead innovative collaborations while serving a key support role in others. A few recent

collaborations include:

Medical-Legal Partnerships- Goal is to integrate legal

services as part of the health care treatment plan to improve

the health of vulnerable patients.

SLLS is the lead agency for an onsite medical-legal

partnership at two Daughters of Charity Services of New

Orleans (DSCNO) federally qualified health clinics. Partners

include the Pro Bono Project and DCSNO. LSC’s Pro Bono

Innovation Fund supports this project.

Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program (JRAP) & Public Housing Youth Reentry- Goal is to improve economic

opportunities for public housing area youth up to age 24 in New Orleans who have arrest or criminal

records through civil legal aid and other supportive services.

SLLS leads a collaborative with the Housing Authority of New Orleans, Providence, the Justice &

Accountability Center, and Urban Strategies. Activities include expungement clinics, Know Your Rights

sessions, and individual representation in 150 cases to resolve collateral consequences of arrests and

convictions. Generous support is provided through HUD and Baptist Community Ministries.

Ending Chronic and Family Homelessness Advocacy Collabortive- Goal is to end chronic homelessness in

greater New Orleans by 2017 and family homelessness before 2020 and maintain it at functional zero.

SLLS is a critical partner in a collaborative led by Unity of Greater New Orleans along with Travelers Aid

Society. Through advocacy, centralized intake, system integration, and training, we will functionally end

chronic and family homelessness in New Orleans. Generous support is provided through the United Way of

Southeast Louisiana.

5 elements of collective impact












Tribute to NOLAC and SLLS Directors

NOLAC/SLLS has been blessed with dedicated, visionary Executive Directors since the day we opened

our doors. So much of what we have been able to accomplish over the years is due to the legacy of these

leaders who were also outstanding advocates and mentors in their own right. Former NOLAC and SLLS

Directors include:


Richard Buckley Lila Hogan

Joseph Meyer, Jr. David Duhon

Galen Brown

Brian Lenard

Richard Goins

Yvonne Hughes

James “Jim” Sacher

Mark Moreau

A special homage is owed to long-time Directors

Mark Moreau and Brian Lenard who each devoted

their entire careers to NOLAC/SLLS. For over three

decades each, Mark and Brian stabilized the

program growing it into what it is today. They are

legends beloved by many in the legal and nonprofit

community. Having ably led SLLS through

catastrophic Hurricanes, funding crises, mergers,

and so many other challenging times, they are

heroes to our staff.

Due to serious illness, Mark retired in the fall of

2013 with Brian stepping down in May 2014 – the

end of an era. To honor Mark, who passed away in

February 2014, the New Orleans Bar Association created the Mark A. Moreau Award to annually honor his

impressive career in public interest. Mark was also posthumously honored in October 2017 as a “Housing

Justice Hero” at the National Housing Law Project’s annual conference. Brian received the 2014 LSBA Leah

Hipple McKay Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteerism.

Since May 2014, SLLS has been led by Executive Director Laura Tuggle and Deputy Director Roxanne

Newman. We are honored to stand on their shoulders as we move SLLS forward to accomplish our shared

vision of a more just society.

Pictured Above Left to Right:

Brian Lenard, SLLS Co-Executive Director, Chris Ralston,

SLLS Board Member, Mark Moreau, SLLS Co-Executive Director

receiving 2012 City Business Leadership in Law Awards

Hub for Justices and Judges

NOLAC/SLLS has served as a hub for many leaders. Since we opened our doors, forty-three former staff,

board, and committee members have been or become judges or jurists including trailblazer Chief Justice

Bernette Johnson. We are proud to have been part of their careers.

Louisiana Supreme Court

Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson

Revius O. Ortique Jr.

Louisiana Courts of Appeal

Joan M. B. Armstrong

Edwin A. Lombard

Marcel Garsaud, Jr.

James C. Gulotta, Sr.

Madeleine M. Landrieu

Terri F. Love

Ernest “Dutch” Morial

United States District Courts

James A. Comiskey

Louis Moore, Jr.

Okla Jones

Ivan L. R. Lemelle

Karen Roby

Jay. C. Zainey

State District Courts, Hearing Officers, & Juvenile Courts

Reginald T. Badeaux, III

Paulette R. Irons

Stephen B. Beasley

Kim A. Boyle

Margaret Burke (Alaska)

Sidney H. Cates, IV

Desiree Cook Calvin

Charlotte A. Cooksey (Maryland)

Darryl A. Derbigny

Mary Devereux

Nils Douglas

Bernadette D’Souza

Charles L. Elloie

Carolyn Gill-Jefferson

Alan J. Green

Madeline Jasmine

Calvin Johnson

Ethel S. Julien

Yada T. Magee

Rueben Bailey

Robert H. Morrison, III

Kern A. Reese

Emile R. St. Pierre

Ronald J. Sholes

Ray Steib

Kirk A. Vaughn

Zoey Waguespeak

Lori Woodruff-White

Cultivating the Next Generation of

Justice Leaders through Fellowships

With generous support from local and national organizations, SLLS hosts innovative Fellowship projects

to respond to urgent community needs. The New Orleans Bar Association and the New Orleans Bar

Foundation currently fund a Veterans Justice Fellowship to address unmet legal needs of vulnerable

veterans. Equal Justice Works funds two Disaster Law Fellows. Two Tulane Law School Lutz Fellows and

a Loyola Law School Gillis Long Social Justice Fellow are helping address the urgent needs of domestic

violence victims and abused children. A new LBF Child Welfare Fellowship will provide resources to help

SLLS represent abused/neglected children and their special education needs. Borchard and Berkeley

Foundation Fellowships enable SLLS to fight for housing justice for seniors and people with re-entry issues.

Louisiana Bar


Child Welfare

& Flood


Re-Entry &



New Orleans Bar

Association (NOBA)

& NOBA Foundation

Veterans Justice


Protecting the

Most Vulnerable

& Developing

Future Justice


Equal Justice

Works Fellowship


Partnership &




Elder Law

Tulane Law

School Lutz


Child in need of

Care, Disaster, &



Loyola Law


Social Justice


Child in Need

of Care

SLLS Today

Since 1967, SLLS has grown to become Louisiana’s largest civil

legal aid provider. We now cover twenty-two parishes from six

offices, have 101 employees, and operate five Self-Help Desks

in partnership with local courts. Staff are embedded onsite with

community partners, like hospitals, health clinics, community

colleges, domestic violence centers, and homeless shelters to

ensure civil legal aid is part of a holistic solution to improving lives.

Fellowships with law schools, foundations, and bar associations

help us meet urgent needs. Since 1997, when computerized case

management began, SLLS has helped 510,317 people in 179,391

cases, an average of 25,515 people helped annually.

Having an SLLS lawyer prevents loss of family, food, shelter, income, medical care, or personal safety.

In 2016, SLLS handled over 11,000 cases helping over 26,000 vulnerable Louisianans, reached another

13,500 people through community education, and provided legal information to over 143,000 more through Priorities for our work include:

• Protecting domestic violence victims & abused children

• Preserving homes, improving housing conditions, & defending housing rights

• Safeguarding the rights of special populations like disaster victims, seniors, veterans, the

homeless, or people living with disabilities

• Increasing the income of consumers & the working poor

• Improving health, education access, and employment opportunity

• Providing self-help resources, community education, and legal information to the public

The direct economic impact of our 2016 work for clients was $22.3 million while a Louisiana Bar Foundation

Economic Impact Study found that for every $1 invested in civil legal aid, there was $8.73 of social return

on investment. Pro bono attorneys donated 5,465 hours of service valued at almost $1 million dollars while

law students racked up over 10,000 hours of service.

Excellence in Advocacy

through Impact Work

Though SLLS no longer handles class actions, we continue to address systematic problems. This includes

impact work such as appellate cases to overturn improper denials of the right of indigent clients to proceed

in forma pauperis, protecting public housing tenants, challenging the foster care system, and ensuring

fair housing and affordability protections are enforced for disabled tenants. Notable examples are:

Desire Area Residents Council vs. HANO – SLLS filed suit against the Housing Authority of New

Orleans (HANO) on behalf of the Desire Area Resident Council and over 400 individual HANO tenants forced

to relocate from public housing as the sites were torn down and redeveloped. The suit involved inadequate

tenant relocation assistance due to HANO’s failure to properly adjust utility allowances. It settled for $3.3

million and resulted in utility allowance increases for 10,000 tenants once schedules were raised.

Catrice Johnson et al vs. Housing Authority of Jefferson Parish,

442 F. 3d 356 (5th Cir. 2006) – This case was a victory of first impression

in federal court granting voucher holders a private right of action to sue

housing authorities for inadequate utility allowances in the Housing Choice

Voucher Program. This affected all voucher holders in the United States. The

housing authority requested U.S. Supreme Court review which was denied.

“American Can”

Evictions –

53 low-income elderly and/

or disabled tenants living in affordable units at

the American Can apartment complex faced a Christmas

time eviction in December 2016. The owner wanted to

substantially raise rents on units it claimed no longer

had to be rent restricted for poor people. Through SLLS

representation of seven tenants, we discovered the owner had likely failed to comply with affordability

protections. After settlement negotiations, tenants were provided a nine month delay on evictions, $1,500

each towards payment of moving costs, and housing search assistance. Due to extensive media coverage,

this case unearthed serious concerns regarding the failure of government agencies nationally to monitor

affordability compliance periods to protect low-income tenants.

Photo Courtesy of the New Orleans Advocate,

Staff Photographer Matthew Hinton

- Mike Ensault, disabled Vietnam Veteran being evicted

from the American Can apartments.

Making a Difference

for the People We Serve

Despite constant defunding threats, regulatory compliance, disasters, inadequate resources, huge

caseloads, and other challenges, we have the best jobs! Knowing the difference we make in someone’s

life, inspires us. Below are a few words of thanks from recent clients:

“From the moment I shook your hand, I felt the support. For the first

time in years, my kids and I feel safe- even better, we are safe. We

can’t thank you enough.”- Y.N.

“I want to thank you for all you have done. You were awesome in the

courtroom. You gave me something I have not had for most of my

life, and that is the freedom to live, speak, and feel without being

criticized. This is a big turning point in my life. This has changed

my life, and I will always remember what you have done.” - S.A.

Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right. Psalms 106:3. “Your help in winning my

eviction made me think of this verse. You took away the stress hanging over me. Continue to help others.” - S.G.

“It’s not just the thoughtful way you helped, it’s the caring behind your kindness.”- D.L.

“You worked so hard to help me solve the biggest crisis of my life. Thank you for putting up with me and all the

rest.”- M.

“My brother and I would like to express our utmost appreciation for all your hard work in helping us get our

succession finished and our FEMA claim approved after the flood destroyed our home.”- E.S.

“I just cannot express my thanks enough, you have truly impacted my life. As I write this note, I am in tears.

When I thought I was lost, you helped me find my way. Thank you for being my support system and letting me

know that I deserved better.”- K.

“I highly appreciate your help. I couldn’t have done this without you. I was very lucky to have you as my attorney.

Will never forget you. Thank you for a fresh start.”- Z. A.

“A million thanks for a million dollar job! You have changed my

life.”- C.

“You may not know it, but you saved my life. I was in pain, couldn’t

afford medicine, and had about given up. Working with you was one

of the best things in my life.” - S. M.

“Thank you so much getting the eviction overturned – I am so glad

you and SLLS were there and thank you for helping those who need

it most.”- L.S.

“You are my guardian angel. Thank you for being there for my family. We can always count on you to help in our

time of need. Don’t know what people would do without you.”- P. C.

Forging a Path Ahead for the Next Fifty Years

SLLS is working harder than ever to ensure equal justice and fairness for vulnerable people. During

our 50th year, we will launch several initiatives to enhance our capacity to better serve clients and our

community. From October 2017 - October 2018, be on the lookout for:

Investments in Capacity to Increase Access to Justice

• LSC Pro Bono Innovation Fund Transformation Grant - October 2017

• LSC Technology Innovation Grants - October 2017

• New Orleans Office Moving to New Location - April 2018

• LBF Funded Statewide Case Management System Upgrades -Spring 2018

• New SLLS Agency Website - Early Spring 2018

SLLS is also tackling new projects to fill service gaps and increase access to justice to vulnerable people.

New Projects Underway to Increase Access to Justice

• Veteran Justice Fellowship and Medical-Legal Project Expansions

• Reentry Court Collaborative Lawyering Project & Civil Legal Aid for Reentry Youth

• Trafficking Grant in Partnership with Healing Place Church

• United Way of Southeast Louisiana Disaster Grant for Long-Term Recovery

• Coastal Advocacy Grant with Louisiana Appleseed for the Bayou Region

Be part of SLLS’ story for the next 50 years. Subscribe to our

newsletter at and like us on Facebook.

Check out our website to find out more about our

upcoming 50th Anniversary Year activities

including four law school events and four

community forums in the Baton Rouge,

New Orleans, Northshore, and

Bayou Region areas. (504) 529-1000

SLLS has offices in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, Harvey, Houma, and New Orleans