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Neighborhood Legal Services Association aka NLSA

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Crime & Law, Legal Services

Mission: The mission of Neighborhood Legal Services Association is to meet the civil legal needs of the poor and vulnerable in our community through effective legal represenation and education. Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLSA) was established in 1966 as a non-profit, public interest law firm to provide civil legal assistance to poor and vulnerable residents of Allegheny (and later) Beaver, Butler and Lawrence Counties. The mission of Neighborhood Legal Services Association is to meet the civil legal needs of the poor and vulnerable in our community through effective legal representation and education. 

Staffed by highly qualified lawyers, deeply committed to the practice of poverty law, NLSA attorneys sacrifice higher salaries available to private practitioners and lawyers employed in the public sector in order to provide legal assistance to people who cannot afford a lawyer.

All of the cases that NLSA handles have reached a crisis stage that threatens the fundamental safety and security of low-income individuals living in our community. These issues involve the basic essentials of life such as: the ability to maintain housing; obtaining or maintaining essential benefits to the disabled and children; employment practices; child custody and visitation issues; and protection from abuse and neglect.  Although NLSA typically works case by case, its positive impact is cumulative. Generally, legal assistance for one person improves the lives of entire families. When families live in adequate housing, with essential benefits intact, predatory lenders at bay, and fear of domestic violence reduced or eliminated, communities are stabilized -- benefiting to our entire region.

NLSA is the major provider of free civil legal services to low-income, elderly, and abused individuals in our four-county service area. Over the past forty-three years, NLSA has provided civil legal services to nearly 825,000 clients who would otherwise have been denied access to the justice system. With only 28 lawyers to handle over 12,000 cases a year, NLSA also relies on the collaboration of 400 attorney members from the private bar to supplement monetary and human resources. NLSA is governed by an active, supportive, and generous Board of Directors 

Results: In the last fiscal year (July 1, 2006-June 30, 2007), NLSA attorneys handled 12,051 cases and utilized the pro bono services of 307 private attorneys to handle 1,630 pro bono cases.

Target demographics: Low-income families, individuals and elderly people who have a civil legal issue which is affecting their basic needs such as housing, employment and safety.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 21,501 clients were served in the last fiscal year.

Geographic areas served: Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Lawrence counties in Southwest Pennsylvania

Programs: Older & Wiser – a unique partnership among NLSA, corporations, Southwestern Pennsylvania legislators, and the private bar to provide free legal seminars on topics of interest to the elderly, their families, and caregivers. The program was developed in 2003 by NLSA and to date, approximately 3,000 individuals have attended these seminars co-sponsored by over 50 legislators. In 2010, NLSA's Older&Wiser Program was selected as the recipient of the Emil Gumpert Award by the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

Monday, May 23, 2011
Send everyone you know to Butler co, for a FREE Divorce
"SOMEONE IS NOT DOING THEIR JOB" If you knew that Butler County was giving away free divorces? If you knew,YOU the Tax payer were paying for this..What would you say? What would you Do? This IS the case and YES it is true.
The (NLSA) Neighborhood Legal Services Association is giving away FREE divorces. No matter how much you make as long as you fill out the application, That is all that is required.
Research and endless phone calls has sent me into a tailspin with every one ducking and dodging and passing the buck,,That's what has me coming to this blog for your help. I HOPE that i do not get the same response that i have been getting from all the Attorneys.and NLSA management..Are there any concerned citizens of Butler Co. concerned where their tax dollars are being spent? Or is it just me. All though the Pittsburgh Post Gazette has asked to keep them informed ,there seems nothing that can be done with out support from the citizens.

I will be posting the FIRST of many letters that have been sent over the past 3 months of research.
I will Post the last letter first, of my findings to the PPG.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Tom Birdsong
Assistant Managing Editor
34 Blvd. of the Allies
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

May 1, 2011

Dear Mr. Birdsong,

As you requested during our phone conversation on April 27, 2011, I'm writing to let you know of two recent
additional pieces of information.This is in reference to the fraudulent filing of the Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLSA) application.

On April 28, 2011 I had a consultation with William White, with the law firm of Dillon,
McCandless, King, Coulter and Graham. During that conversation I explained the situation to Mr. White. The end result of the 35 minute consultation, was that Mr. White told me that there was nothing he could do, that NLSA would have to take that up with the person that filled out the application, and that unfortunately people do this all the time.

I then called the NLSA. I spoke with a pleasant women by the name of Debbie, who claimed to be the Office Manager. I informed her I wanted to send a copy of all the correspondence and evidence between Gwilym A. Price, and Joyce Krebs via certified mail to her attention. She told me that she would not sign for certified mail from me because she was not supposed to be having this conversation with me. Debbie told me that any correspondence should be going to Mr. Price's office. I informed her that I had already spoken to Mr. Price, but he said that he was not going to sue his client.

I asked Debbie if the NLSA was funded by tax payers. She said 'yes, half federal and half state'. My opinion is that if the tax payers knew that NLSA was not screening their applicants, they would be very upset. Debbie's response was 'We take people at their word and hope that they are telling the truth. Unfortunately, people do this all the time and there's nothing we can do about it'.

My conclusion is that even if you make between $40,000 and $50,000 a year and own a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a pick up truck, your own home and recently purchased a vacation spot on a river in Virginia, you can get a free divorce at the NLSA in Butler County, PA. All you have to do is lie on the application and it will be free to you, but not to the tax payers.

I am still going to send the documentation mentioned previously to NLSA via certified and regular mail. I will be curious to see if they respond or take any action knowing that I'm going to pay to have my findings published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

"As the certified letter was sent, and as Debbie the office manager had mention...YES the letter was returned" The letter was returned, not only was it written on once not twice not even three times but FOUR times,it said in BIG LETTERS with a colored magic marker,RETURN TO SENDER.
Im curious to know if she also through the regular mail in the trash..

Comments ( 1 )


Kirby 06/14/2011

Thank you for taking the time to comment. However, the review stating that Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLSA) provides free divorces in Butler County is not factually accurate. Neighborhood Legal Services Association does not represent clients in divorce actions nor has NLSA filed any divorce actions on behalf of clients for several decades. Divorce representation was discontinued many years ago when it became necessary to prioritize the types of cases we accept due to overwhelming demand and shrinking program resources/funding. However, we do offer telephone advice and reduced fee referrals of income-eligible clients to private attorneys who elect to participate in our referral program. Through the Reduced Fee Referral Program, several private attorneys in the Butler area have agreed to accept referrals from NLSA. They charge referred clients an agreed upon reduced fee for the divorce. Reduced Fee Referrals are provided for income eligible clients (those with incomes at or below 125% of poverty) only after a thorough income and asset screening of the client has been completed by staff. All allegations of misrepresenation of income and/or fraud are taken very seriously and promptly investigated by NLSA management. Should evidence of fraud be determined, legal services are terminated if NLSA staff attorneys are providing the representation. If NLSA has completed a reduced fee referral, the private attorney is notified of the fraud. It is then up to the private attorney to determine whether or not to proceed with representation at the reduced rate. Once the referral is completed, NLSA actually closes its file and is no longer involved in the relationship between the private attorney and the client. For more information on NLSA, please visit our website, www.nlsa.us.