About Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc.
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma (LASO) is a 501 (c) (3) organization that provides free civil legal assistance to eligible low-income individuals and their families and to the elderly. This service is provided through its 21 law offices that are strategically-located throughout the state so that they can serve clients in every county. These Law Offices are in Ardmore, Bartlesville, Hugo, Lawton, Muskogee, Norman, Oklahoma City, Stillwater, Tulsa and Weatherford. There are smaller satellite offices in Ada, Altus, Chickasha, Duncan, Enid, Jay, McAlester, Poteau, Shawnee, Stilwell, and Woodward. The administrative office is in Oklahoma City.
The work of Legal Aid is civil in nature. Legal Aid may not assist with any criminal problems or provide any representation to those who are incarcerated. Legal Aid is prohibited from entering class action law suits as well as from taking fee generating cases. Legal Aid typically passes those cases to the private bar when clients seek our help. Even if individuals qualify for service, because the demand far exceeds the capacity of staff, most cases must meet a condition of immediate severity.
In 2013, LASO has a total staff of approximately 128 including 66 attorneys, 16 paralegals and 46 clerical and administrative support staff. To help handle the demand, hundreds of private Oklahoma attorneys volunteer their time and expertise to Legal Aid. Sometimes they teach in our legal clinics, but most often they advise clients and help them fill out legal forms, or they take on simple cases for full representation. In 2012, 292 private attorneys statewide handled at least one Legal Aid case, and a total of 1074 pro bono cases were closed.
All clients who are seeking Legal Aid’s services call the toll-free application line. The staff for this service is located in the Tulsa Law Office. After clients provide their income information and a summary of their legal problem, their case may be referred to one of Legal Aid’s local offices for assistance or declined based on income above our standards or case type. To be eligible for legal assistance a client must be living at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines.
In 2012 the LASO legal staff and pro bono attorneys closed 10,357 cases statewide. The biggest demand for the services of LASO is for family law, including cases involving domestic violence. Children are the biggest benefactors as LASO strives to stabilize their families through the issues of custody, child support, and divorce. LASO also represents the elderly seeking social security or other public benefits or in helping the elderly resolve the issues of guardianship. LASO helps individuals faced with losing their housing through evictions or mortgage foreclosures and with cases involving Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care problems, helping them gain the entitlements for which they qualify.
As a non-profit law firm, LASO depends entirely for its support upon grants, contracts, and donations. LASO is a member agency of the following 14 United Ways and Community Funds: Ada, Grady County (Chickasha), Enid, Lawton, Muskogee, Norman, Oklahoma City, Pottawatomie, South Central Oklahoma (Ardmore), Southeastern Oklahoma (McAlester), Stephens County (Duncan), Stillwater, Tulsa Area, and Woodward.
The membership of our 27-member governing board is determined by the Legal Services Corporation, LASO’s primary grantor, and must be comprised of two-thirds attorney representatives from bar associations and other legal associations and one-third representing LASO clients.