5 Legal Organizations That Help Disadvantaged People

Inequality in the United States takes many forms, and one way in which class differences manifest themselves is through a lack of legal representation for certain communities. Everyone deserves to have adequate representation and advocacy from attorneys and other legal professionals, and these groups work to fight for those who are traditionally underrepresented, including children, the elderly, and those lacking in economic opportunity. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Name Headquarters Purpose
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Vienna, VA Dedicated to improving the quality of legal services for people as they age, as well as for individuals of all ages with special needs
Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia Washington, D.C. Provides advocacy and legal representation to indigent adults and children eligible for court-appointed counsel in D.C.
Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Chicago, IL Works to secure racial equity and economic opportunity for all by supplying legal representation and collaborating with grassroots organizations to implement community-based solutions
AIDS Law Project Of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA Provides free legal assistance to those living with or impacted by the HIV and AIDS epidemic, educates the public, and trains case management professionals in AIDS-related legal issues
Children's Law Center Washington, D.C. Partners with lawyers on a pro bono basis on custody cases, adoption law, & housing regulations, develops city-wide policy recommendations, and works with health care professionals to identify the root causes of at-risk children's health problems

How Many American Children Live In Poverty?

Percentage of children ages 0–17 by family income relative to the poverty threshold, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics

Poverty Level 1980 1990 2000 2010 2011 2012 2014 2015 2016
Below 50% of poverty threshold 6.9% 8.8% 6.7% 9.9% 9.8% 9.7% 9.3% 8.9% 8.2%
50% - 99% of poverty threshold 11.4% 11.8% 9.5% 12.1% 12.0% 12.1% 11.9% 10.8% 9.8%

Statistics On Aging in the US

  • 47 million: number of seniors in the United States
  • 14.5%: Percentage of Americans 65 and over
  • 95 million: Projected number of seniors in 2060
  • 78: Average American life expectancy
  • 20%: Percentage of seniors who have yet to retire
  • 3%: Contingent of seniors who live in nursing homes
  • 19%: Senior population of Florida, highest in the U.S.
  • 41%: Obesity rate among those 60 and older
  • 38: Current median age in the US
  • 43: Projected median age in 2060
  • 8.5%: Number of seniors 65 and over who smoke cigarettes
  • 12.14%: Percentage of women age 75 and over living in poverty in the US

Stacey Abrams for the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Facts About Disabilities in America

An Introduction to Children's Law Center

In Depth

Adequate representation plays a crucial part in determining the outcome of a court case or legal matter. Children, immigrants, low-income individuals, and other marginalized groups are often faced with additional barriers to fair treatment. Here, in no particular order, are five organizations ensuring everyone has equal opportunity to secure the help they need.

In the #1 spot is NAELA, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. This group is dedicated to improving the quality of legal services for people as they age, as well as individuals of all ages with special needs. It works with lawyers, bar organizations, and others on such issues as long-term care and incapacity, healthcare decision making, income benefits, and fiduciary representation. This nonprofit's mission is to educate, inspire, serve, and provide community to those that are practicing elder and special needs law.

Through programs, publications, and events, NAELA provides valuable support and information for its members. It also holds annual gatherings for providers to network and learn from each other and broaden their understanding. Providing subject-matter expertise to policymakers is another way it is advocating for the elderly and persons with disabilities. You can donate to this organization, or those who meet the qualifications can join as a member.

Through programs, publications, and events, NAELA provides valuable support and information for its members.

Next, at #2, is the Public Defender Service For The District Of Columbia. PDS protects society's interest in the fair administration of justice. For over fifty years, this organization has been promoting and providing exceptional advocacy and legal representation to indigent adults and children eligible for court-appointed counsel. Generally, it handles the more serious criminal cases, due to its resources, training program, and skill level.

PDS is one of the few defender organizations in the world to meet the ten public defense delivery system principles outlined by the American Bar Association. It offers internships for qualified students interested in a hands-on learning experience. You can also subscribe to receive updates on event opportunities and blog posts.

Coming in at #3 is Chicago Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights, an organization working to secure racial equity and economic opportunity for all. It is a group of civil rights lawyers and advocates providing legal representation through partnerships with the private bar. By collaborating with community leaders, grassroots organizations, and advocacy groups, it is using the power of the law to uplift those most impacted by poverty and disparity.

By collaborating with community leaders, grassroots organizations, and advocacy groups, it is using the power of the law to uplift those most impacted by poverty and disparity.

The Chicago Lawyers' Committee operates many programs that strengthen and support at-risk individuals and communities. These include the Community Law Project, focused on economic development and social services delivery to low-income neighborhoods, and the Police Accountability Project, which implements systems of transparency and oversight in policing. Its Pro Bono Works program is an opportunity for lawyers to volunteer their services to those in need.

#4 is the AIDS Law Project Of Pennsylvania, which was founded in 1988. It provides free legal assistance to those living with or impacted by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Committed to breaking the physical and linguistic barriers affecting these individuals, it educates the public and trains case management professionals on AIDS-related legal issues. It offers assistance with discrimination, confidentiality, testing protocols, and benefits.

Law school students and lawyers can volunteer to help this organization with their mission. The AIDS Law Project's staff attorneys are available for speeches and discussions on relevant law and policy to promote and advocate for these issues. Attending its annual gala is another way to show support for this group and its work.

Attending its annual gala is another way to show support for this group and its work.

In the #5 spot is Children's Law Center, helping thousands of children in the D.C. area each year. Through its advocacy both in and out of the courtroom, it is ensuring children are on the path to a better education, good health, and a stable home. It partners with lawyers on a pro bono basis, develops city-wide policy recommendations, and works with healthcare professionals to identify the root causes of at-risk children's health problems.

Its work includes custody cases, adoption law, and housing regulations. This group is tackling the big problems facing the children of D.C., and helping them find a solid foundation of family, health, and education. Those who would like to help can make donations to this organization, which promises to be an effective and passionate steward of each financial gift.