Area Legal Aid Only Able to Meet Fraction of Need

By Womble, Shannon | The Florida Times Union, March 7, 2000 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Area Legal Aid Only Able to Meet Fraction of Need

Womble, Shannon, The Florida Times Union

Despite the efforts of 25 full-time attorneys, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Inc. helps only a fraction of those who can't afford to fight negligent landlords, abusive husbands or federal benefit programs.

Legal Aid, which services Baker, Duval and Nassau counties through its downtown Jacksonville office and Clay County with a branch office, handled 5,282 cases in 1999. But officials said the number of people seeking their services far exceeds the number they could actually help.

"Study after study shows that legal services programs are only meeting about 20 percent of the need," said Michael Figgins, executive director of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Inc. "And with restrictions that have been placed on legal services programs, people pretty much get half an attorney. That's not really legal justice."

Legal Aid handles only civil cases. Custody and domestic violence cases, housing discrimination, divorce, consumer fraud and Social Security and Medicare entitlements make up the majority of the non-profit agency's case load.

Heidi Hayn's custody battle is one of the 362 cases Legal Aid's tiny Green Cove Springs office closed last year, but attorneys said the number doesn't accurately reflect the number of cases the Clay County Branch handled.

"When you don't have the money, you can't fight for your rights," said Hayn, an Orange Park mother who turned to Legal Aid last year to fight for custody of her 12-year-old son. "I wouldn't have been able to fight for my son without them."

Gloria Einstein, lead attorney in the Green Cove Springs office, said she finds deep personal satisfaction in helping her clients, but admits the process can be trying.

"It does get easier to tell people they don't qualify for assistance or that we can't take on their case," she said. "But it never quits tugging at your heart strings."

She's often pressed to conduct important legal research, prepare for court appearances and interview new clients in a regular eight-hour day. A new attorney hired in February is easing the work load, but officials said there's still too much to do.

"We do the very best we can with very limited resources," Einstein said.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Area Legal Aid Only Able to Meet Fraction of Need


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?