Equal Access to Justice is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was started in 1988 by concerned attorneys who saw firsthand how many New Mexicans with civil legal problems could not get legal help.
Over the past 30 years, Equal Access to Justice has raised over $4 million dollars to support our providers’ clients who include low-income families, adults and children with disabilities, elderly people and homeless people.
When you donate to Equal Access to Justice, you are helping increase safety and family stability for New Mexicans in vulnerable circumstances. This work is accomplished by four organizations that meet legal needs through services and advocacy. These four civil legal services providers are New Mexico Legal Aid, DNA – People’s Legal Services, Law Access New Mexico and the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.
The types of cases our providers work with include housing and shelter rights, domestic relations, consumer issues, government benefits, health care, Indian tribal issues, and protection of land and water rights.
What is civil legal aid and why does it matter?
Legal aid helps people solve problems…
tenants facing wrongful eviction;
homeowners facing foreclosure due to fraudulent schemes;
women who are victims of domestic violence;
veterans and military families struggling in civilian life;
consumers bankrupted by predatory lenders;
workers cheated out of wages or denied lawful benefits;
children who need a stable home or special education;
elderly whose economic security or health care is in jeopardy;
disabled people denied opportunities;
immigrants who work the lowest-wage jobs without benefits or contracts;
communities devastated by natural disasters…
For the millions who are facing a life crisis of some sort every day, the most powerful and effective response often includes some kind of legal help — knowledgeable guidance through unfamiliar rules and processes. This legal help is especially important for people who are poor or nearly poor (federally defined in 2013 as income up to $29,438 a year for a family of four) — people whose basic survival depends on being able to stay in a home, secure health care or food, keep their families together, or protect themselves against abuse. Unresolved, such problems can multiply, tearing families apart and driving them further into poverty.
Yet, unlike in criminal cases, there is no guarantee of counsel in civil cases.
There are offices around the country [including New Mexico] with experienced professionals that offer legal help ranging from dispensing basic advice, helping to mediate claims, providing representation in court, community advocacy, and policy reform. Most of the encounters with legal aid do not involve litigation.
“The impact of legal aid in terms of public costs saved — homelessness prevented, health
benefits secured, domestic violence harms averted, among other measures — has
been documented in dozens of local and national analyses,” says David Udell, director,
National Center for Access to Justice at Cardozo Law School in New York City. “The
impact in terms of people’s lives is immeasurable.” For example, the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York reported in 2012 that funding civil legal aid gets a return on investment of approximately $6 for every $1 spent. And a Texas Access to Justice Foundation study conducted by the Perryman Group in 2013 found that funding in the state for indigent civil legal services generates about $47.5 million in yearly fiscal revenues to state and local government entities.
Natural allies: philanthropy and civil legal aid
© 2013 Public Welfare Foundation and The Kresge Foundation