History of NLS
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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. All three of these small programs received funding from the Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”). In 1980, LSC determined that having three small programs were 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 Senior Legal Helpline that was established in 2006 specifically to serve Seniors in rural Nevada. The Helpline has a toll-free number and the Helpline staff provides legal advice to all callers. If the caller needs more than legal advice, an intake is completed by the Helpline staff and a case is opened up by the appropriate office. The toll-free number for the Senior Legal Helpline is 877-693-2163. The Senior Legal Helpline is open to all Seniors regardless of income. Seniors do not have to meet the eligibility income guidelines for service for the poor. The Senior Legal Helpline is housed in our Elko office.
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. The toll-free number for our statewide Low Income Tax Payer Clinic is 855-657-5489. The LITC assists people who have issues before the IRS and in the US Tax Court.
In addition to the Low Income Tax Payer Clinic and the Senior Legal Helpline, NLS has three other special projects. 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 helps 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 is separate from the Senior Legal Helpline, but it works in cooperation with the Helpline. 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.