Mission: The mission of Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia is to help low-income Philadelphia residents obtain equal access to justice by providing them with advice and representation in civil legal matters; advocating for their legal rights; and conducting community education about the legal issues that affect them.
History: For more than 40 years, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia has provided the highest quality legal assistance to low-income Philadelphians who cannot afford legal counsel when they most need it. Created by the Philadelphia Bar Association in 1966, CLS is widely recognized as one of the most sophisticated, respected legal services programs in the nation. It is also one of the largest and most experienced. In the past year alone, CLS has helped more than 18,000 Philadelphians, fighting consumer fraud and predatory lending, preventing homelessness, ensuring fair treatment in the workplace, and protecting women, children and the elderly. Since inception, CLS has served well over a million individuals at what is often the most critical time of their lives.
Practice Areas: Community Legal Services houses nine different legal units, each proficient in a different area of law: Community Economic Development, including the Childcare Law Project; Consumer Law; Aging and Disabilities Law; Employment; Energy; Family Advocacy; Housing; Language Access; and Public Benefits, including the Advocating on Behalf of Children project (ABC).
This range of activity enables Community Legal Services to meet the many individual legal needs of impoverished Philadelphians. At the same time, our broad legal expertise empowers us to have a profound impact on local and national policy as we help policy makers understand the ramifications of policies on the most fragile members of our society. Community Legal Services is routinely at the forefront of emerging legal issues, clearing a path for the larger legal community to follow. The result: Community Legal Services makes equal access to justice a reality for low-income people in Philadelphia.