Arizona Community Legal Services Marks 60th Anniversary
PHOENIX, Ariz. - This is National Pro Bono Week, a week when lawyers across the country provide free legal advice. A local Arizona agency is marking its 60th anniversary of offering year-round, cost-free legal services. The nonprofit Community Legal Services opened in 1952. It has been described as a civil version of the Public Defender's Office.
Longtime executive director Lillian O. Johnson says the agency relies heavily on its volunteers.
"We have volunteers who are law students and paralegals. We also have volunteers who are lawyers and participate in interviewing clients, as well as help the client to actually resolve their legal problem."
Volunteers, lawyers, judges and staff who have helped Community Legal Services over the past 60 years will be honored this evening at an anniversary celebration at the Sandra Day O'Connor Federal Courthouse in downtown Phoenix.
Johnson says housing issues are a major focus for volunteer attorneys at Community Legal Services.
"They handle landlord-tenant potential evictions from rental property and also have a broad-based knowledge of consumer law."
Johnson says Community Legal Services also handles a lot of family law disputes.
"One of the most significant problems that families continually face is domestic violence, and providing legal representation for abused children or children who are seeking guardianship changes."
Community Legal Services is for low-income Arizonans, mostly in central and western Arizona, who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Johnson says her agency is able to meet less than 10 percent of the need and is always seeking donations and additional volunteers.