Legal Aid Group Still Has Much Work to Do

By Marizco, Michael | International Journal of Humanities and Peace, Annual 2003 | Go to article overview

Legal Aid Group Still Has Much Work to Do


Marizco, Michael, International Journal of Humanities and Peace


Attorneys dedicated to helping low-income clients who have nowhere to turn to for help were honored for their work at a luncheon earlier this month, but have much more work to do before everybody in northern Arizona is fairly represented, they heard.

"As long as there is injustice for one, there can't be justice for all," said Lillian Johnson, executive director of Community Legal Services in Phoenix, to the crowded banquet room. Community Legal Services provides free legal representation in communities throughout the country.

She came to Flagstaff to speak to DNA--People's Legal Services, Inc., a non-profit legal group that gives legal representation to people on or near the Navajo Nation for civil matters.

"Justice. Each of us have a responsibility to do something specific to get it," Johnson stressed.

But Johnson may have been preaching to the proverbial choir.

The attorneys who volunteer for DNA understand the need for equity perhaps better than any other group.

DNA, ([Din.sup.6] [Be'iin.sup.1/3] [N.sup.1/3] hillna Be Agha'diit'ahii) is Navajo for "Attorneys who Work for the Economic Revitalization of the People."

It is the largest Native American legal services program in the country, with nine offices in northern Arizona, northwest New Mexico and southeastern Utah. According to its Web site, the program provides free legal representation and advice in civil matters to people who meet specific low-income restrictions established by federal poverty guidelines.

From 1,556 people who came to their offices for help, 1,200 received help, reported Sylvia Struss of the DNA Flagstaff office.

And for those who cannot get help from the regular DNA staff, there exists the volunteer attorneys like those who were honored at the luncheon.

Through the DNA Volunteer Lawyers Program, people who might otherwise have no legal help have someone to turn to for legal assistance.

Some of these may be people with a conflict of interest with DNA's regular services, such as a case where one member of a couple seeking divorce has already gone to DNA, leaving no options for the other person. …

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Legal Aid Group Still Has Much Work to Do
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