About Legal Aid

Philadelphia’s legal aid non-profits and their social services peers are crucial to the quality of life in our city. When legal aid thrives, we all benefit.

For nearly six decades, Americans have been afforded the right to representation in criminal cases, and many organizations in Philadelphia provide pro bono services to those facing criminal charges. The organizations in the EJC provide civil legal aid services which exist to help members of our community access basic necessities. This includes solving non-criminal issues such as healthcare, housing, government benefits, employment, and educational services. However, some of the EJC Partners may help clients whose criminal records serve as a barrier to such needs as housing or employment.

Why do legal aid non-profits have such a significant impact on the community?

Because they serve individuals and families who have nowhere else to turn. Many come to these organizations with legal issues that no other agency can fully resolve, such as complex educational barriers for immigrant children or students with disabilities. Or they are facing legal emergencies that could lead to seriously negative long-term consequences for health, safety, or family stability. And in some cases, a client’s needs and rights are not adequately being addressed by government programs, and they have been threatened with a termination of public benefits or the denial of services.

Legal aid advocates provide a brain trust to address these issues swiftly and comprehensively, often collaborating and working closely with other social services and government agencies. They are there to ensure that individuals and families don’t fall between the cracks, and that even the most complicated legal issues are resolved before a crisis occurs.

But legal aid attorneys don’t just solve existing issues.

They stop them before they begin. Some of the most impactful work of legal aid staff involves providing community education, written materials, and training for individuals and groups, to help them proactively handle situations before legal problems arise.

On a small and large scale, civil legal aid organizations ensure that housing is affordable, employment is attainable, education is successful, and health care is accessible. And the EJC will permanently transform the capacity of Philadelphia’s legal aid system to sustain and improve its operations and enhance its ability to meet client needs.