Neighborhood Legal Services Association

Providing civil legal aid to those who have nowhere else to turn

aka NLS   |   Pittsburgh, PA   |  www.nlsa.us

Mission

Our mission is to meet the civil legal needs of the poor and vulnerable in our community through effective civil legal representation and education. NLS 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. Staffed by highly qualified lawyers, deeply committed to the practice of poverty law, NLS attorneys provide legal assistance to people who cannot afford a lawyer. All of the cases that NLS handles have reached a crisis stage that threatens the fundamental safety and security of low-income individuals living in our community.

Notes from the nonprofit

Funding for civil legal aid is grossly inadequate. NLS only has the financial resources to help a fraction of those in need. Your financial assistance to NLS helps our neighbors in crisis return to safe, productive lives. NLS works diligently to raise funds to support programs and services for those who have nowhere else to turn for help. There are many ways you can help bridge the justice gap in our community by investing in civil justice and supporting NLS.

Ruling year info

1967

Executive Director

Ms. I. Kristine Bergstrom Esquire

Main address

928 Penn Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15222 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

25-1157129

NTEE code info

Personal Social Services (P50)

Legal Services (I80)

Civil Rights, Social Action, and Advocacy N.E.C. (R99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

NLS strives to ensure access to justice by providing free “civil” legal services to low income individuals and families. We were created to address the lack of basic legal assistance in civil matters for those without the means to hire a private attorney. While the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gideon v. Wainwright guaranteed indigent defendants the right to counsel in criminal matters, there is at present no equivalent right for victims of violence, for those unlawfully evicted, for those unfairly denied government benefits, or for those in danger of losing a child in a custody battle.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Legal Helpline

Staffed by attorneys, the HelpLine serves clients on all civil legal matters, including housing, utility, consumer and bankruptcy issues, and family and elder law matters.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Economically disadvantaged people

The Elder Law Project is a special focus project that delivers civil legal services at no cost, with no means requirements, to older adults on such legal issues as advanced directives, guardianships, powers of attorney, wills, bankruptcies and debt collections.

Population(s) Served
Seniors
Adults

Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLS) 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. Legal aid attorneys and paralegals, working within NLS's four-county service region, provide legal advice and/or full legal representation to low-income individuals on a variety of civil legal matters such as but not limited eviction, public benefit issues and unemployment benefit denials.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Adults

NLS operated "Debt Advice" Clinics in its Pittsburgh office other every Wednesday before the Covid-19 pandemic. These now occur virtually. Clients have the opportunity to hear a brief presentation on debt and family law issues and obtain legal advice from staff and volunteer attorneys. Reduced fee referrals are provided if a client requires additional assistance.

Population(s) Served
Adults

NLS, in collaboration with the Center for Women by the National Council of Jewish Women & Jewish Women’s Foundation has created the Women’s Impact Network to provide legal services, career services and personal support to women in sudden economic distress. Funding for the initiative comes from the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

NLS has a long history of representation of clients in unemployment compensation cases and expanded this project to include other legal issues related to a client’s need to achieve a basic level of income e.g. job preservation and removal of barriers to employment by expungement of criminal records and child abuse allegations, and pursuing unpaid wage claims.

NLS provides advice on pardon issues; terminations of employment for medical leave usage or child support garnishment of wages; occupational license issues; non-compete agreement issues; access to income streams related to employment e.g., pensions and employer provided disability benefits; misclassification of workers as independent contractors; discrimination in employment; and at will discharges. As part of this project, NLS also provides outreach and community education to community groups and clients.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Adults

NLS received a special Disability Advocacy Project (DAP) Innovation Grant from the FISA Foundation, which will increase legal representation of children and age-18 redeterminations in social security disability cases. SSI is available to children who meet the disability requirements of the Social Security Administration (SSA) but have little income or resources. Part of the parents’ income is attributed to the child in determining whether the child is financially eligible for SSI. In order to qualify for benefits, the child must have a medical condition, or a combination of conditions, that result in “marked and severe functional limitations. This means that the condition(s) must very seriously limit the child’s activities. The child’s condition(s) must have been disabling, or be expected to be disabling, for at least 12 months. When the child turns 18 or graduates from secondary school, SSA will review their case to determine whether they are eligible under the adult standard.


Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Young adults

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our fiscal years run from July 1 to June 30. Data for fiscal year 21-22 has not yet been tabulated.

Number of Cases Handled in a Fiscal Year

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Results for fiscal year 21-22 have not yet been tabulated.

Number of clients served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Results for fiscal year 20-22 have not yet been tabulated.

Average online donation

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Our fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. Data from fiscal year 21-22 has not yet been tabulated.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Since, 1966 Neighborhood Legal Services has been working to restore hope to vulnerable individuals, veterans and families in our region - hope that comes in the form of equal access to justice. All of the cases that NLS handles have reached a crisis stage that threatens the fundamental safety and security of low-income individuals living in the region. These civil legal 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.

Depending on the particular civil legal problems, we may provide direct representation, advice, assistance in self-representation, brief service/limited legal assistance or referral to a private attorney (including free and reduced-fee). We also provide community education on legal topics. Free interpretation services are provided to those with limited English abilities and the hearing-impaired.

As Neighborhood Legal Services Association celebrated its 50th anniversary year in 2016, the scope and nature of the agency’s broad range of essential services to the community are reflected in it's outcomes each year. Our staff of 68 served over 18,400 residents of Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Lawrence Counties including seniors, veterans, victims of domestic violence and other low income or under-served populations who did not have the ability to pay for legal help. The staff’s efforts were aided by pro bono volunteers from 45 area law firms and corporate legal departments who closed 778 pro bono cases.

NLS Attorneys handled 9,202 cases, serving 18,476 individuals, and securing over $1 million in awards for its clients. NLS also held 27 virtual debt advice clinics for 208 attendees.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    NLS secures justice and resolves fundamental legal problems for those who are low-income and vulnerable in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Lawrence Counties by providing high-quality legal services and community legal education.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Case management notes, Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Due to safety and health concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic we moved our outreach and informational events online.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Asking for feedback through client satisfaction surveys and performing semi regular needs assessments to identify areas in which we can best serve our clients allows us to ensure we are doing the best we can to provide not only high quality but needed civil legal aid.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome,

Financials

Neighborhood Legal Services Association
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Neighborhood Legal Services Association

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Stephanie Reiss

Morgan, Lewis and Bockius, LLP

Judge Eric Abes

Des'tyne Adams

Central Clients Council

Jessica Altobelli

Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote

Sylvia Basich

Central Clients' Council

Jamey Belin

Charlton Law

Kent Bey

Central Client's Council

David Blaner

ACBA

Julie Colton

Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel

Beatriz Diaz-Cothen

James J. Loll P.C.

Kaitlin Dichiera

K&L Gates LLP

Leslie Dutchcot

Marks Elder Law

Alex Hershey

Clark Hill PLC

Rochelle Jackson

Central Clients' Council

Nancy Jones

Central Clients' Council

Nicholas Kennedy

QuatriniRafferty, PC

Robert Klug

The Huntington National Bank

William Kozich

Caroselli, Beachler, & Coleman LLC

Christopher Lovato

Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, PC

Elizabeth Mavero

UPMC Health Plan

Thomas May

Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, PC

Judy McElroy

Central Clients' Council

Elizabeth Parker

Law Office of Elizabeth Parker

Jeffrey Pollock

ABCA

Diana Purdom

Central Clients' Council

Shelby Ray

Central Clients' Council

Stephanie Reiss

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP

Larry Silverman

Offices of Larry A. Silverman, Esq.

Tiffany Sizemore

Duquesne University of Law

Joshua Stein

Argo

Alice Stewart

University of Pittsburgh School of Law

Richard Taylor

Central Clients' Council

William Turner

Central Clients' Council

Dana Adipietro

US Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District

Joan Zangrilli

PNC Bank, NA

Margaret Coleman

The Law Offices of Timothy P. O'Brien

Uyi Enyenihi

Central Clients' Council

Adrienne Langer

Cusick, DeCaro & Langer, P.C.

Jacqueline Robinson

Central Clients' Council

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/4/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/04/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.