Albuquerque, N.M. – The Lawyer Referral for the Elderly Program (LREP), a non-profit program of the New Mexico State Bar Foundation has received $70,000 in grant funding for the next four years from the New Mexico Civil Legal Services Commission (CLSC). The grant will allow LREP, now in its 27th year of operation, to continue providing services to seniors over age 55, including services in Spanish. A statewide toll-free hotline provides seniors the opportunity to speak with attorneys who may assist in reviewing documents or writing letters. If a senior requires representation, LREP will refer the senior to a local attorney. Seniors, their families and caregivers may access LREP’s free helpline by calling toll free, statewide 800-876-6657. LREP also holds workshops at senior centers throughout the state.
In addition, CLSC awarded $83,000 to continue coordination of 16 pro bono committees statewide through the Access to Justice (ATJ) Commission. The committees were organized by the chief judges in each area and are charged with recruiting volunteer attorneys to take pro bono cases. The ATJ Commission is a statewide body dedicated to expanding and improving civil legal assistance to New Mexicans living in poverty. The commission’s goals include expanding resources, increasing public awareness through communication and message development, encouraging more pro bono work by attorneys, and improving training and technology.
According to the request for proposals, evidence collected by the ATJ Commission demonstrates that across the state the broad focus legal aid providers are unable to serve approximately two applicants for every applicant they do serve. The unmet legal need in New Mexico is even greater than in other states because of our relatively high rate of poverty. One quarter of New Mexico’s families qualify for legal aid at 125% of the federal poverty guideline.
In 2001 the legislature passed the Civil Legal Services Act, which created the Civil Legal Services Fund and CLSC. The fund collects money from a surcharge on filing fees in district, metro and magistrate courts. The CLSC awards contracts to eligible legal aid providers in New Mexico.
The State Bar of New Mexico was organized in 1886 and is composed of more than 8500 members. Its purposes are to aid the courts in administering justice and preserving the rule of law, and to foster a high standard of integrity and competence within the legal profession.