The Need

Our very existence is in response to need within the community for legal support for those who have great difficulty accessing the justice system. Consider this:
  • “The middle 70% of our population is not being reached or served adequately by the legal profession.” (U.S. Supreme Court in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona)
  • Nearly three-quarters (71%) of the legal situations faced by low-income households and nearly two-thirds (61%) of the legal needs of moderate-income households do not find their way to the justice system (Legal Needs and Civil Justice:  Major Findings from the Comprehensive Legal Needs Study, American Bar Association, 1994)
  • For every client served by free legal aid services, one qualified client is turned away (Documenting the Justice Gap in America, An Updated Report of the Legal Services Corporation, 2009)
  • Less than 20% of the legal needs of low-income households are met with an attorney’s help (Documenting the Justice Gap in America, An Updated Report of the Legal Services Corporation, 2009)
  • Over the last several years, courts have seen a significant increase in the number of unrepresented litigants (Documenting the Justice Gap in America, An Updated Report of the Legal Services Corporation, 2009)
  • The most cited reasons for lack of access to the justice system are that legal services cost too much, a sense that hiring an attorney would not help, ignorance about how to access the system adequately, and a belief that the legal situation is not a problem (Legal Needs and Civil Justice, ABA, 1994)
  • In McLennan County alone, 43.5% of our households are near or below 125% of the federal poverty line and another 33% are in the moderate-income range (U.S. Census statistics, 2010)
  • This means that in McLennan County over 75% of our households have extreme difficulty accessing the justice system resulting in high percentages of unmet legal needs
  • Upwards of 2/3 of the applications for the Waco Office of Lone Star Legal Aid are turned down every week because of a lack of people to handle all of the cases (Sheryl Swanton, Managing Attorney, Lone Star Legal Aid – Waco Office)

At Mission Waco Legal Services, we will address these alarming statistics through innovative and empowering holistic legal representation, education, and advocacy.