Our Roots and the Path NLS Has Been on to Provide Equal Justice for All
Prior to 1980, there were three small legal services organizations in Nevada – the Indian-Rural Legal Services Program located in Carson City; Washoe Legal Services in Reno; and Clark County Legal Services in Las Vegas. In 1980, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a non-profit organization that disburses money appropriated by Congress for civil legal services to all 50 states and US territories, determined that having three small programs was inefficient and not the best way to serve the State of Nevada. LSC forced a merger of the programs and told Nevada to create one statewide program. That process was completed in 1981 and Nevada Legal Services was born as the program to serve the entire state of Nevada. LSC awarded NLS all of the LSC funding from 1982 to the present. Washoe Legal Services decided that they would not merge into the larger program and gave up all of its federal funding to NLS. It remained a small program, serving residents of Washoe County doing mostly family law work.
Between 1981 and 1996, Nevada Legal Services was the main legal services organization in the State of Nevada. Then in 1996, Congress passed new, restrictive LSC regulations, forcing NLS to split off a portion of the staff and funding of the LSC program and re-establish Clark County Legal Services (that program changed its name to the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada a few years ago because too many people assumed that it was an entity of the Clark County government). Washoe Legal Services remained in Reno.
Nevada Legal Services continues to be the pre-eminent legal services organization in the State of Nevada. Nevada Legal Services provides the full range of services to all seventeen counties in Nevada. NLS performs intake and outreach on a schedule established by each office. We travel to all corners of Nevada providing self-help clinics, legal seminars, and providing direct assistance to individual clients. Direct assistance can range from brief services (i.e. drafting a simple will) to representation at administrative hearings and in State, Tribal, and Federal Courts.
NLS has a number of toll-free numbers for general calls and special programs. The toll-free number for Clark, Nye, Lincoln, and Esmeralda Counties: 866-432-0404. The toll-free number for all other counties is 800-323-8666.
NLS also has a host of projects to assist communities across Nevada. The Indian Law Program serves all 23 reservations in Nevada. The Indian Law Program provides legal representation in civil cases in Tribal, State, and Federal Courts and representation in criminal cases in Tribal Courts. The clients of the Indian Law Program are some of the most rural and isolated clients that we serve. NLS also has a Rural Consumer Law Project to help with consumer and foreclosure issues. We assist clients in rural areas of Nevada have relaxed income and asset eligibility rules. NLS has a Senior Law Project that provides legal assistance for all Senior residents of Washoe County and the northern rural Counties. The Senior Law Project provides assistance to seniors regardless of income. Finally, NLS has a Pro Bono Program matching attorneys with clients who need legal representation free of charge. You can check out more of our Law Projects by navigating to our What We Do page.