The Indianapolis Legal Aid Society (ILAS) is a law firm for the vulnerable and underserved—providing Hoosiers in Central Indiana with direct and immediate access to comprehensive, free legal assistance in civil matters. So why aren’t the general public and legal community more familiar with its work? As the group approaches 80 years of service, ILAS president and Lewis Wagner, LLP partner, John C. Trimble, undertakes a plan to assist ILAS in reaching more of those in need.
While most similarly sized cities typically have one or two lawyers working in a legal aid society, ILAS is comprised of eight lawyers and an overall staff of 14 representing nearly 6,000 clients each year. ILAS handles a wide range of legal issues, most frequently in the areas of housing, guardianship, adoption, and family law. “The general public does not realize that ILAS represents individuals in civil actions whereas the courts will only assign a lawyer in a criminal case,” says Trimble. In addition to confusion about the scope of services, ILAS is also frequently mistaken for Indiana Legal Services, an organization which also serves clients with civil legal issues but receives millions in federal funding each year. Confusion between the organizations is understandable, yet detrimental when it comes to yielding precious private donations and grants to sustain ILAS services, especially as The United Way of Central Indiana continues to significantly reduce funding—only appropriating $50,000 this fiscal year.
Trimble, ILAS General Counsel, John Florenacig, and the whole board of directors are committed to overcoming these challenges by increasing public education and promotion efforts over the next two years, and by expanding services while recognizing the evolving socioeconomic disparities in our community. “Solving the legal problem will better position clients to overcome the root cause of their trouble, which often is poverty. Income inequality, educational deficiencies, and physical and emotional abuse are often the burdens clients bring when they seek legal aid,” Trimble concludes.
Lewis Wagner, LLP is proud to support Trimble and the ILAS in their mission to promote economic self-sufficiency, preserve dignity, and strengthen our neighborhoods and communities by providing access to legal counsel for all Hoosiers. For more information about the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society and to learn how you can help support the organization, read the full article from Indiana Lawyer here.