NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Justice should never be rationed – that’s the motto for the Legal Aid Society here in Middle Tennessee. The organization helps those who can’t afford the legal expertise they may need.
Executive director Gary Housepian has been doing this work for 39 years and heads up the largest non-profit law firm in the state. Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands takes on civil cases at no cost to their clients.
“We have great clients that are very strong that are just having maybe a tough time. If we can have a chance to kind of help them with our legal services to help them through it. It makes them stronger, it makes our community stronger,” he explained.
Those clients are spread out over 48 counties and 20,000 square miles. Housepian says that providing people access to justice helps restore faith.
“If you’re able to keep someone in housing, it keeps them from being homeless and the expenses associated with that. If you’re able to stop a home from being foreclosed upon, it helps that community, that neighborhood so that property values stay solid,” he said.
From domestic issues, to unemployment benefits, to helping to establish eligibility for nursing home care – for many, Legal Aid Society is their only hope.
Trey Harwell of Neal and Harwell PLC serves as the campaign chair for their Equal Access to Justice Program, and says he’s seen that hope first hand.
“If we weren’t here, these people would really have nowhere to go or to turn, and several of them would be living on the street and would be out there with little to no hope. In many instances we are the last hope the last chance for these people. It not only changes lives but it gives people hope with quality legal service,” Harwell said.
Legal Aid Society works with local organizations to help find those who need help. One of those organizations is Operation Stand Down Tennessee, where the non-profit holds a monthly clinic with lawyers on hand to help veterans in need.
John Krenson is the executive director for Operation Stand Down Tennessee, and he knows the value of free legal advice for those involved in his organization.
“Many times they’re trying to work through that whole labyrinth of the VA, which is a great partner and a great resource, but many times can be overwhelming and very bureaucratic. We see a lot of veterans that will give up on trying to access their benefits.”
Legal aid society needs over $50,000 by the end of year to meet their fundraising campaign goal.
You can donate at www.las.org.