The Legal Aid Society

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The Legal Aid Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit legal aid provider based in New York City. Founded in 1876, it is the oldest and largest provider of legal aid in the United States.[2] Its attorneys provide representation on criminal and civil matters in both individual cases and class action lawsuits. The organization is funded through a combination of public grants and private donations.[3] It is the largest recipient of funding among regional legal aid providers from the New York City government and is the city's primary legal services provider.[4]

The Legal Aid Society
The Legal Aid Society logo.svg
Motto"Making the case for humanity"[1]
ServicesLegal representation, class action litigation
FieldsLegal aid
Key people
Charles K. Lexow, Steven Banks

History and leadershipEdit

The Legal Aid Society was founded in 1876 in New York to defend the individual rights of German immigrants who could not afford to hire a lawyer. A large donation from the Rockefeller Family in 1890 enabled the organization to expand its services and include individuals from every background.[2] It was renamed the New York Legal Aid Society in 1890.[5] The society is governed by a board of directors. On December 2, 2010, Richard J. Davis was elected chairman of the board.




The Legal Aid Society provides a range of civil legal services, as well as criminal defense work, and juvenile representation in Family Court. The organization's primary purpose is to provide free legal assistance to New Yorkers who live at or below the poverty level and cannot afford to hire a lawyer when confronted with a legal problem.[15] It handles more than 200,000 indigent criminal cases every year, serves as attorneys to more than 30,000 children and represents families, individuals and community groups in more than 30,000 cases. Legal Aid also conducts major class action litigation on behalf of thousands of welfare recipients, foster children, homeless families, elderly poor, inmates at Rikers Island and other prisoners.

The Legal Aid Society is the city's primary provider of criminal legal aid contract attorneys, along with New York County Defender Services in Manhattan, Brooklyn Defender Services in Brooklyn, Bronx Defenders in the Bronx, Queens Law Associates in Queens, and the Neighborhood Defender Service in northern Manhattan.[17] For New York City in FY 2014, Legal Aid handled 225,776 cases for $102.5 million in compensation from the city (an average of $454 per case).[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Isaacs, Susan, 1943- (2012). Goldberg variations : a novel (1st Scribner hardcover ed.). New York: Scribner. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-4516-0591-4. OCLC 792880649.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b "The Legal Aid Follies". City Journal. 2015-12-23. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  3. ^ "Partners of The Legal Aid Society". The Legal Aid Society. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  4. ^ Riester, Steve; Wright, Eisha (March 12, 2018). "The Legal Aid Society and Indigent Defense" (PDF).
  5. ^ Law and Society, Matthew Lippman, 2018
  6. ^ "Hughes Heads Legal Aid. Republican Candidate for President Succeeds Von Briesen". New York Times. December 29, 1916. Retrieved 2014-09-28. At a meeting of the Directors of the Legal Aid Society yesterday afternoon ex-Supreme Court Justice Charles E. Hughes was elected President unanimously to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Arthur von Briesen. Mr. Hughes has been a member of the Legal Aid Society from its early days, and became an Honorary Vice President in 1911.
  7. ^ "Arthur Von Briesen Dies In Ferry House. Lawyer and Philanthropist Stricken with Heart Disease on Way to Staten Island Home. Ex-Head Legal Aid Society. His Pro-German Sympathies Led to His Resignation During War After 25 Years' Services". New York Times. May 14, 1920. Retrieved 2013-12-01. Arthur von Briesen, one of the most prominent American citizens of German birth, who was long active in local and national affairs as a lawyer and philanthropist, died suddenly yesterday of
  8. ^ "Von Briesen Is Out As Legal Aid Head. Criticism Because of His German Name One Reason for Declining Re-election". New York Times. February 26, 1915. Retrieved 2014-09-28. Because of his German name Arthur von Briesen, for more than twenty-five years head of the Legal Aid Society, refused at the society's annual meeting yesterday to accept the Presidency for another year. After some pleading, however, he decided to withhold his decision, and if no other selection could be agreed upon, to serve, but only for one more year. ...
  9. ^ "Legal-Aid". Retrieved 2016-04-28.
  10. ^ "Banks To Leave The Legal Aid Society After 33 Years To Head HRA In New City Administration". The Legal Aid Society of New York. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  11. ^ Saulny, Susan; Archibold, Randal C. (2004-07-08). "How a Lax Eye on Money Pushed Legal Aid to the Brink". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  12. ^ "Archibald Murray, 68; Led Bar Association". New York Times. September 21, 2001.
  13. ^ "Cornelius P. Kitchell, Englewood Leader". New York Times. January 4, 1947. Retrieved 2011-10-24. Cornelius P. Kitchel, former Mayor of this city and former chief of the Legal Aid Society in New York, died at his home, in Englewood. ...
  14. ^ John MacArthur Maguire (1926). The lance of justice: a semi-centennial history of the Legal Aid Society. p. 195. ISBN 0-8377-0847-8. The sixth Attorney-in-Chief was Cornelius P. Kitchel. His administration, running from early 1905 until nearly the end of 1906, showed steady progress in ...
  15. ^ a b "The History of the Legal Aid Society". Legal Aid Society. Archived from the original on 2013-11-11. Retrieved 2011-10-31. The Legal Aid Society was founded in 1876 to defend the individual rights of German immigrants who could not afford to hire a lawyer. The massive influx of poor immigrants into New York City in the years following the Civil War bred resentment and immigrants often became the targets of graft and hostility. ... The first office was at 39 Nassau Street, staffed by attorney Charles K. Lexow. Lexow, a graduate of Columbia Law School ...
  16. ^ "C. K. Lexow Dies of Heart Attack. Commissioner of Supreme Court Records Was Found Stricken in His Office Thursday. Oldest Republican District Leader in New York City. Brother of Late Clarence Lexow. A Native of New York City. Entered Politics in 1881". New York Times. July 14, 1928. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  17. ^ a b Wright, Eisha N. (27 March 2015). Report on the Fiscal 2016 Preliminary Budget: Courts and Legal Aid Society / Indigent Defense Services (PDF). New York City Council Finance Division.

Further readingEdit

Holland, Rupert Sargent (June 1907). "Defending the Rights of the Poor". The World's Work: A History of Our Time. XIV: 9091–9042. Retrieved 2009-07-10.

External linksEdit