By Bailey Bortolin
- How Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada came to be.
On August 1, 1958, the Clark County Legal Aid Society opened its doors. The program was sponsored by the Clark County Bar Association. Financial support was provided by Justice of the Peace Art Olsen, who pledged to donate all of his local wedding receipts for the month of July. In 1996, Congress enacted new laws targeting legal aid and limiting the scope of practice for those accepting federal funds. The board voted to split from the federally funded work, naming Barbara Buckley Executive Director of what is today Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
- Legal Aid Center provides a civil right to counsel in two areas.
While there is no constitutional right to counsel for those who cannot afford an attorney in civil law matters, the Nevada legislature has created a right to counsel in two important civil case types – a right to counsel for children who are the subject of a 432B child welfare case (children interacting with the foster care system) and proposed protected persons that are the subject of a minor or adult guardianship proceeding pursuant to NRS 159A and 159.
- Legal Aid Center assists community members with a wide variety of legal issues.
We provide direct representation in civil cases such as:
• Consumer Protection
• Housing Security
• Family Law
• Children in Foster Care
• Special Education
• Victim’s Rights
Additionally, Legal Aid Center runs the Civil Law Self Help Center and the Family Law Self Help Center at the Regional Justice Center and 8th Judicial Family Court. We also offer free community information classes in partnership with the Boyd School of Law.
- The Legal Aid Center is expanding with the building of the Advocacy & Justice Complex.
Working with Clark County in the aftermath of 1 October, we created the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center – our community’s first comprehensive, multi-agency collaborative to provide services to victims’ families, survivors and first responders. The need remains great for victims of violent crime across the state, and we are proud to have announced plans to build the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada Advocacy & Justice Complex, a statewide service campus where any Nevadan who has experienced the devastating trauma of violent crime can find justice and begin to heal.
- You can be a part of Legal Aid Center’s mission of preservation of access to justice and the provision of quality legal counsel, advice, and representation for individuals who are unable to protect their rights because they cannot afford an attorney.
In 2023 alone, pro bono attorneys have donated more than 21,000 hours serving the community through the Legal Aid Center’s Pro Bono Project. If you’d like to take a case representing a child in foster care or a vulnerable community member, available cases are always listed at https://www.lacsnprobono.org/available-cases/. Additionally, the Appellate Pro Bono Program offers attorneys a unique opportunity to hone their advocacy skill by guaranteeing oral argument.
About the author
Bailey Bortolin is the Director of Advocacy and Strategic Initiatives at Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. Bailey is an attorney and policy expert who works to effectuate systems level change to advance access to justice.
About the article
This article was originally published in the Communiqué (Jan. 2024), the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association. See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2024/communique-jan-2024/.
© 2024 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.