NM’s System of Civil Legal Services

Updates:

NM Center on Law and Poverty and NM ACLU, along with other state partners, released a report on solitary confinement on Monday, October 21, 2013. Read the report, “Inside The Box: The Real Costs of Solitary Confinement in New Mexico’s Prisons and Jails”.

Overview:

The Civil Legal Services System in New Mexico is an informal network of non-profit organizations, agencies, law-firms and individuals who seek to ensure that low-income New Mexicans have access to justice.  Civil legal services are legal and law-related services designed to help low income individuals, families and communities solve civil (non-criminal) legal problems that they experience.  The Civil Legal Services System helps low income people defend and assert important legal rights that often involve the most fundamental aspects of life – personal and family safety, homeownership and shelter protection, economic security, health care and shelter.

Note: Most non-profit organizations assist low-income individuals only, defined as 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.

View the latest Federal Poverty Levels.

Who Provides civil legal services in New Mexico?

Most civil legal services in our state are provided by non-profit organizations. Some law firms provide free legal services as part of their commitment to justice for all.

The non-profit organizations that provide civil legal services are funded primarily by private grants but may also receive state government funding and, in some cases, funding from the federal government.  It is important to understand that funding for these organizations falls far short of what is needed to meet all the legal needs of low-income New Mexicans. For this reason, civil legal services providers must prioritize the types of cases that they can handle.  The overall goal is to provide legal help to those most in need of legal help and on matters that affect fundamental interests such as personal and family safety, economic security, and access to and preservation of housing, essential governmental benefits and health care.

To visit the web site of non-profit organizations that provide civil legal services in New Mexico, click on the bold name of the organization in the list below.   If you are seeking services, however, you may wish to first contact Law Access New Mexico, the first organization listed.

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Non-Profit Organizations that seek to provide a broad range of civil legal services to all low-income New Mexicans.:

  • Law Access New Mexico serves as the gateway to the non-profit civil legal services providers. If you are looking for free legal services, the first step is to place a call to Law Access New Mexico.  Law Access employees will listen to your situation, determine whether you are eligible for help and, if appropriate, refer you to a source of legal services.  They may be able to help you directly themselves as well, because they also serve as a statewide telephone helpline to provide free legal advice and brief services for low-income New Mexicans across the state. 1-800-340-9771
  • New Mexico Legal Aid provides general legal services to low-income individuals in all counties except San Juan, which is served by DNA People’s Legal Services. Individuals should apply for assistance through Law Access New Mexico. If Law Access cannot meet an individual’s needs, they will refer the matter to NM Legal Aid.  View locations and contact information for New Mexico Legal Aid offices.
  • New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty provides legal advocacy for groups of low-income New Mexicans who need representation in state administrative systems, the legislature and the courts. The Center generates systemic improvements to policy, regulations and programs that affect low-income New Mexicans. It also provides training and information to advocates and low-income people concerning public benefits programs, access to health care and other issues relating to low-income populations. It distributes know-your-rights pamphlets and other resources for low-income people and their advocates. The Center does not, in general, provide individual representation. 505-255-2840
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Specialty Civil Legal Services:

  1. Advocacy, Inc. provides assistance in uncontested legal guardianship services to low-income caregivers raising children whose parents are unable or unwilling to care for them. It offers four programs designed to fill the legal needs of children in Bernalillo County: a) guardianship legal services; b) adoption legal services; c) Guardian ad Litem services; and d) information, referral and training. 1-866-257-5320
  2. Catholic Charities provides free legal immigration services and representation to eligible immigrants to help them apply for legal status for themselves and their children under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The project provides intake and assessment of the domestic violence and the overall situation, then prepares all the necessary documents to take the case to the Immigration and Naturalization Services or the Executive Office for Immigration Review. 505-247-0442
  3. Disability Rights New Mexico provides legal assistance to people with disabilities and mental illness. It provides both direct services to individuals and systemic services that impact groups of New Mexicans with disabilities. The DNA Protection and Advocacy program serves people with disabilities on the Navajo reservation. 1-800-432-4682
  4. DNA People’s Legal Services works to protect civil rights, promote tribal sovereignty and provide general legal services to low-income people, primarily in San Juan County and on the Navajo and Jicarilla reservations.  DNA has four offices in New Mexico.
      • DNA Protection and Advocacy System serves people with disabilities on the Navajo reservation: 1-800-862-7271
  5. NM Immigrant Law Center provides legal advice, representation, and advocacy to immigrants and aspiring citizens living in New Mexico. 505 247-1023 
  6. NMFLAG provides legal assistance to pro se litigants (people going through the civil court system without an attorney) in Albuquerque and also advocacy services for victims of domestic violence in counties surrounding Albuquerque. 505-256-0417
  7. Pegasus Legal Services for Children provides comprehensive legal services to children, youth and their caregivers, including direct representation, community legal education, and policy advocacy. The issues that they help with include children’s right to appropriate public education (including education needs of children with disabilities and children in foster care), kinship guardianship, family law for young parents, access to health and mental health care, transition from foster care to young adulthood, and child abuse and neglect. 1-800-980-1165
  8. United South Broadway Corporation works to address affordable housing opportunities, commercial revitalization, crime prevention and youth development. The organization is a HUD-certified housing counseling agency with experienced bi-lingual staff and has a statewide foreclosure defense project.  Their Fair Lending Center provides in-house legal services and direct legal representation for homeowners at risk of losing their homes. 505-764-8867
  9. Senior Citizens Law Office provides free civil legal services to Bernalillo County residents more than 60 years of age, especially concerning the following issues: income maintenance, guardianship/conservatorship, power of attorney and other advance directives, issues of financial exploitation, landlord-tenant and public housing problems, consumer issues, health-related issues and long-term care issues. Most of the clients served are low-income individuals. The Senior Citizens’ Law Office also provides systemic advocacy on a wide variety of elder law issues. 505-265-2300
  10. Southwest Women’s Law Center provides legal advocacy to address gender-related poverty issues and to improve opportunities for low-income women. In general, does not provide individual representation. 800-244-0542
  11. State Bar of New Mexico Lawyer Referral for the Elderly provides legal assistance and referrals to seniors around New Mexico, particularly outside of Bernalillo County.  800-876-6657
  12. State Bar of New Mexico Lawyers Care is the general referral and assistance program of the State Bar of New Mexico. For low-income people, referrals may be pro bono or reduced fee. The program accepts some of the overflow cases that New Mexico Legal Aid is unable to take.
  13. State Bar of New Mexico Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the State Bar of New Mexico sponsors two Homeless Legal Clinics. Volunteers provide pro bono legal services and pro bono referrals to homeless persons at the Health Care for the Homeless location in downtown Albuquerque and at the Mesilla Valley of Hope in Doña Ana County. Many services are brief services. Others require more extensive work and are referred to volunteers who have agreed to accept referrals from the Clinic.
  14. UNM Law School Clinical Law Program provides services to faculty, students and income eligible clients under the supervision of faculty members. Students represent low-income clients in a range of legal matters, including: landlord-tenant, consumer, family law, zoning, environmental, and wills. Additionally, the program operates a Southwest Indian Law Clinic serving American Indian communities and individuals.
  15. Keep Your Home New Mexico Program is a cooperative effort of several non-profit New Mexico organizations including United South Broadway Corporation, New Mexico Legal Aid, Senior Citizens’ Law Office, DNA Peoples’ Legal Services, Independent Living Resource Center and others.  The program provides direct foreclosure prevention services to New Mexico homeowners who are struggling with their mortgage or facing foreclosure.  This website is also duplicated in its entirety in Spanish.
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Other Resources:

  • Domestic Violence Legal Hotline: 505-243-4300
    • (Leave message; attorney will call back)
  • HIV/AIDS Legal Helpline: 1-800-982-2021
  • Law Help New Mexico
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