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The Need for Lawyer Volunteers

In the general population, Virginia has one lawyer per every 349 people.

That's not the case for the poor.

Virginia has just one legal aid lawyer for every 6,184 people living in poverty. Low-income individuals' hopes for legal representation are dim without the help of professional attorneys like you.

Virginia has 10 legal aid programs that serve low-income families and individuals. Their staffs range from eight employees to 80, and their offices are in urban settings and small towns. They welcome your assistance. Each is described below.

Can you assist one of Virginia's legal aid providers in serving low-income families and individuals? Lawyers who do so can make a difference in the basics of a client's life: income, shelter, food, health care, education and family stability.


Virginia Legal Aid Program map

Program profiles

Blue Ridge Legal Services Inc. (

Blue Ridge Legal Services logoFounded in 1977, its staff of 12 attorneys provides free legal assistance in civil matters of critical importance to low-income residents of the Shenandoah Valley and Roanoke Valley. Offices are in:

  • Winchester
  • Harrisonburg
  • Lexington
  • Roanoke

Blue Ridge Legal Services mapCase priorities include:

  • Family disputes (for example, domestic violence, divorce)
  • Problems dealing with debts and bankruptcy
  • Housing and landlord-tenant disputes
  • Eligibility for various government benefits (such as food stamps, TANF, and Supplemental Security Income benefits)
  • Access to health care (for example, issues involving Medicaid and Medicare)
  • Consumer disputes, and
  • Issues affecting seniors (such as exploitation and problems with nursing homes).
Employment possibilities

Current openings are posted on the Blue Ridge Legal Services website and on the National Legal Aid & Defender Association website.

Starting salary for a new attorney is $51,006 plus a $5,000 LRAP from LSCV.

Blue Ridge Legal Services averages five to six summer law clerks each year. Interested individuals should contact the managing attorney of the specific office where you'd like to clerk. Candidates should secure their own funding or work as a volunteer. The office can suggest funding sources and cooperates in the process of securing funds.

To volunteer

Contact the executive director:
John E. Whitfield
Blue Ridge Legal Services Inc.
P.O. Box 551
Harrisonburg, VA  22803

For additional information about Blue Ridge Legal Services, see its website.

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Inc. (

Central Virginia Legal Aid Society logoFounded in 1974, its staff of 27, 10 of them attorneys, provides legal advice, brief service, negotiation, litigation and representation in administrative hearings. It also provides information and advice through clinics and community education, and partners with local, state and national groups that support legal aid and organizations that provide service to its clients. Offices are in:

  • Charlottesville
  • Petersburg
  • Richmond

Special projects that focus on client populations include:

  • Support and protection for survivors of domestic violence
  • Elder focus on the needs of clients over age 60
  • Foreclosure prevention
  • Services to applicants/clients with limited English proficiency
  • Representation of H2A visa holders as well as U.S. residents and Virginia citizens in the Virginia Farm Workers Program
  • Support of the rights and needs of clients with disabilities
  • Outreach to the homeless, with particular emphasis on homeless veterans, and
  • Pairing pro bono attorneys and law students with CVLAS clients for a variety of services.
To volunteer

Contact the executive director:
Stephen E. Dickinson
Central Virginia Legal Aid Society
101 W. Broad St., Suite 101
Richmond, VA  23220

For additional information about CVLAS, see its website.

Legal Aid Justice Center (

Legal Aid Justice Center logoFounded in 1967, its staff of 25 attorneys and seven paralegals and community organizers provides civil legal services throughout Central Virginia. Services assist low-income families, at-risk children, low-wage immigrant workers, institutionalized people and other vulnerable populations statewide. In its quest to seek equal justice for all, the center also seeks to root out inequities and exploitation that keep people in poverty. The Legal Aid Justice Center receives no funding from the federal Legal Services Corporation. Offices are in:

  • Charlottesville
  • Falls Church
  • Petersburg
  • Richmond

Each year, legal representation by the center benefits more than 3,500 people. It seeks to identify high-impact cases to tackle the systemic problems affecting many people who qualify for free legal services under federal poverty guidelines. Workshops and community education materials reach more than 5,000 people. That reach is broadened by the center's voice in administrative hearings and in the General Assembly, as well as in the courts and social service agencies, among others.

Program practice areas address:

  • Civil advocacy: housing, mental health, consumer protection, employment, immigration law, public benefits, medical-legal partnerships, Virginia Institutionalized Persons (VIP) Project
  • JustChildren: education, juvenile justice, foster care
  • Immigrant advocacy: immigrant rights, minimum wage, overtime pay, nonpayment of wages, employment discrimination
To volunteer

Contact the executive director:
Mary Bauer
Legal Aid Justice Center
1000 Preston Ave., Suite A
Charlottesville, VA  22903

Email submissions must be followed with a hard copy request for consideration. For additional information, see the website.

The Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia Inc. (

Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia logoFounded in 1966, its 21 attorneys and four paralegals promote the equal application of justice and work to remove impediments to fairness for low-income and vulnerable families of Eastern Virginia. Offices are in:

  • Norfolk
  • Virginia Beach
  • Hampton
  • Williamsburg
  • Eastern Shore
To volunteer

Contact the executive director:
Raymond A. Hartz
The Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia
125 St. Paul's Blvd., Suite 400
Norfolk, VA  23510

For additional information about The Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia, see its website.

Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley (

Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley 50th logoFounded in 1966, this is Virginia's oldest staff attorney model legal aid society. Its four Roanoke-based attorneys employ legal services to identify and resolve the most critical civil injustices facing low-income people in an eight-county area surrounding Roanoke. The organization routinely lobbies legislative and administrative bodies on behalf of its clients. Funding comes from multiple sources.

Its Domestic Violence Prevention Program provides victims with help getting protective orders, custody, child and spousal support, divorce, housing and other assistance essential to escaping abuse. The program is financed through a state grant from the Virginia Domestic Violence Victims Fund.

To volunteer

Contact the senior attorney:
Henry L. Woodward
Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley
132 W. Campbell Ave., Suite 200
Roanoke, VA  24011-1206

For additional information about Legal Aid Society of Roanoke Valley, see its website.

Legal Services of Northern Virginia (

Legal Services of Northern Virginia logo from websiteFounded in 1980, its 31 attorneys and three paralegals provide legal advice and advocacy for families and individuals who face the loss or deprivation of a critical human need, such as food, shelter, income, medical care, education, family stability or personal safety. Offices are in:

  • Arlington
  • Old Town Alexandria
  • Falls Church
  • City of Fairfax
  • Manassas
  • Leesburg
  • Fredericksburg
  • the Hybla Valley neighborhood of Fairfax's Route 1 corridor

Practice areas include:

  • Housing
  • Family law
  • Public benefits
  • Consumer advocacy
  • Elder law
  • The Law Center for Children (TLC)
  • Employment law
To volunteer

Contact the executive director:
Jim Ferguson
Legal Services of Northern Virginia
4080 Chain Bridge Road
Fairfax, VA  22030

For additional information about LSNV, see its website.

Rappahannock Legal Services (

Rappahannock Legal Service logoFounded in 1973, the five attorneys and two paralegals at Rappahannock Legal Services give priority to cases involving housing conditions, loss of housing, income maintenance, health, family support, prevention of family violence and immigration. A bilingual attorney and paralegal provide outreach services and representation in immigration cases to the Hispanic community in the service area. Offices are in:

  • Fredericksburg
  • Culpeper
  • Tappahannock

Practice areas include:

  • Services to the elderly under Title III
  • Civil protective orders to end abuse
To volunteer

Contact the executive director:
Ann H. Kloeckner
Rappahannock Legal Services
500 Lafayette Blvd., Suite 100
Fredericksburg, VA  22401

For additional information about Rappahannock Legal Services, see its website.

Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society (

Southwest Virginia Legal Aid logoFounded in 1972, its 16 attorneys and eight paralegals, four of which work in the centralized intake unit, champion equal justice for low-income Virginians and work to remedy the conditions that burden this vulnerable community. Offices are in:

  • Marion
  • Christiansburg
  • Castlewood

Special programs:

  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Public guardianship
  • Victims of domestic violence
  • Family engagement
  • Elder law
To volunteer

Contact the executive director:
Larry T. Harley
Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society
227 W. Cherry St.
Marion, VA  24354
276-783-6576, ext. 223

For additional information about Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society, see its website.

Virginia Legal Aid Society (

Virginia Legal Aid Society logoFounded in 1977, its 14 attorneys and eight paralegals provide legal assistance to low-income people and champion equal justice. Offices are in:

  • Lynchburg
  • Danville
  • Farmville
  • Suffolk

Special programs:

  • LawLine, an intake and advice hot line
  • Housing improvement and preservation
  • Strengthening families with children
  • Senior citizens legal assistance
  • Earned Income Tax Credit
  • Private bar involvement, which involves about 150 attorneys in providing representation to VLAS clients, most often in divorces, bankruptcies, wills and guardianships
  • Financial freedom
  • Health, Education, Advocacy, Law project, a medical-legal collaboration
To volunteer

Contact the executive director:
David Neumeyer
Virginia Legal Aid Society
P.O. Box 6200, 513 Church St.
Lynchburg, VA  24505

For additional information about Virginia Legal Aid Society, see its website.

Virginia Poverty Law Center (

Virginia Poverty Law Center logoFounded in 1978, its seven attorneys provide leadership, support, training, public education and statewide advocacy to address and speak out about the civil legal needs of Virginia’s low-income population. One paralegal is a lending coordinator. Outreach and community education are important parts of its mission. The center does not generally handle individual cases unless local legal aid offices request VPLC to be co-counsel. However, Virginia Poverty Law Center will handle individual cases in which it is determined that representation will help fulfill the mission.

Each attorney specializes in one of the following areas:

  • Health law
  • Elder law
  • Family/foster care
  • Rights of immigrants
  • Family law/rights of domestic abuse victims
  • Housing law
  • Public benefits (unemployment, TANF and food stamps)
  • Consumer law
Employment possibilities

Virginia Poverty Law Center usually has one to three summer law clerks and sometimes a school-year clerk position. The center assists students in their efforts to obtain third-party funding.

Starting salary for a new attorney is $48,000 plus a $5,000 LRAP from LSCV. Employee benefits include health, life and disability insurance and an 8 percent contribution of salaries to a retirement plan.

To volunteer

Contact the executive director:
James W. "Jay" Speer
Virginia Poverty Law Center
700 E. Franklin St., Suite 14T1
Richmond, VA  23219

For additional information about Virginia Poverty Law Center, see its website.

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