Justice Facts Justice is a Right, Not a Privilege
- Civil legal aid in Oregon ensures fairness in the justice system. It provides essential services to low-income and vulnerable Oregonians who are faced with legal emergencies.
- When Oregonians who are struggling to make ends meet lack the resources for needed legal help, they are effectively shut out of the justice system.
- To the average person, our legal system is a maze. That’s why lawyers are trained to guide their clients through the system. Legal aid helped almost 23,000 low-income and senior Oregonians last year who have nowhere else to turn for legal help.
- Legal aid provides:
- free civil legal representation to low-income and senior Oregonians;
- brochures, court forms, and self-help materials to help people navigate our justice system;
- a website with accessible legal information available to all Oregonians; and
- resources to help stabilize families and prevent a further slide into poverty.
- Domestic violence is a major cause of poverty in Oregon. Women and children are thrown into poverty when they are forced to suddenly leave homes and jobs to avoid physical violence or death from an abuser who knows where they live and work.
- 50% of people who are homeless say that domestic violence is the cause of their homelessness.
- A study found that the single most important factor in decreasing the incidence of domestic violence is the presence of a legal aid office in the community.
- 20% of legal aid’s cases are family law cases, and almost all of them involve domestic violence.
- Civil legal aid takes a systemic approach to addressing domestic violence by direct representation, advocating for more services for DV survivors, and working with institutions such as courts, the legislature, law enforcement, and community partners.
- As of 2021, 21% of renter households in Oregon are living in poverty, and 44% spend more than 30% of their income on rent each month.
- In 35 out of all 36 Oregon counties, a full-time minimum wage worker cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment at what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers to be the fair market rent.
- Legal aid is part of the solution. 45% of legal aid’s cases were housing law cases in 2022, with an emphasis on fair, safe, and affordable housing.
- They prioritize the following:
- preservation of existing housing;
- fair housing and alleviation of discrimination in housing;
- subsidized housing, working with housing authorities to ensure programs serve low-income people well;
- habitability, ensuring safe and clean housing;
- foreclosure relief; and
- homelessness issues.
- Pro bono volunteers staffed 9 individual pro bono projects across the state, and contributed more than 4,300 hours in 2021.
- Volunteer lawyers help legal aid meet the needs of the low-income by working with legal aid offices around the state. Legal aid’s pro bono opportunities are tailored to the needs of low-income clients and the available resources in the particular community. Several law firms and corporate counsel partner with legal aid offices to sponsor pro bono clinics.
- Learn more about pro bono opportunities through legal aid at probonooregon.org