Human Services

Neighborhood Legal Services Association

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

aka NLS

Pittsburgh, PA

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.

Ruling Year

1967

Principal Officer

Mr. Robert V. Racunas

Main Address

928 Penn Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15222 USA

Keywords

Legal aid, NLS, legal services, Neighborhood

EIN

25-1157129

 Number

5461549291

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

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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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

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

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Legal Helpline

Elder Law Project

Full Legal Representation

People's Law Clinic

Women's Impact Network

Employment Projet

Where we work

Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of unique website visitors

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of community events or trainings held and attendance

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of Cases Handled in a Fiscal Year

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of clients served

TOTALS BY YEAR
Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Charting Impact

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

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 45 attorneys served close to 15,000 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 267 pro bono volunteers from 45 area law firms and corporate legal departments.

NLSA constantly reviews program services to ensure high quality services. The most recent action taken involved the change of our case management system to Legal Server (LS). This occurred in August of 2016. We will use LS to conduct on-line intake in conjunction with our triage tool developed with the help of Five Star Development and a Technology Incentive Grant from LSC. We will also be using Advanced Grants Management module offered by LS to better manage our grants. We upgraded our website to accommodate on-line intake and ensure that it is now mobile friendly. All offices provide telephone advice using a paperless system [intakes, documents, and letters are attached electronically]. All Protection from Abuse files and advice/limited service Elder Law files are also paperless

NLS Attorneys handled over 7,500 cases and secured $1.3 million in awards for its clients in 2019. NLS was also able to conduct 174 outreach events and distribute more than 9,000 brochures on legal topics impacting our clients.

External Reviews

Awards

Emil Gumpert Award 2010

American College of Trial Lawyers

Financials

Neighborhood Legal Services Association

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Operations

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

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & 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?

No

ETHICS & 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?

No

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

No