Legal Services Vermont is a nonprofit legal services law firm based in Burlington. We were founded in November 1995 as Legal Services Law Line of Vermont.
Our Services are Free
We are supported by a grant from the Legal Services Corporation in Washington, D.C., and by individual donors. We are available to any low-income Vermonter with a civil legal problem.
We offer a wide range of civil (not criminal) legal services — from quick legal advice to full-scope representation — and community legal education for low-income Vermonters.
Each year we set priorities. They help us decide how we will use our limited resources to help as many Vermonters as possible. We also set strategies and goals that enable us to measure how well we carry out our priorities. Our top-level priorities are:
- Housing Issues: Maintain and improve housing stability and quality for low-income individuals and families
- Consumer Issues and Benefits: Improve financial stability for low-income individuals and families
- Family Issues: Preserve and protect family stability and safety
- Legal Help and Education: Empower low-income individuals and families
- Outreach: Improve access to legal assistance and information
Our Core Values
Access: Our goal at Legal Services Vermont is to get help to as many low-income people as possible. Even with difficult cases, or a case where we may not be able to “win,” the client will be benefited by our legal advice and guidance.
Respect and Dignity: Legal Services Vermont works in a high-volume, high-stress environment. It is crucial that we treat everyone with dignity and respect—our clients, our colleagues, and ourselves—so that everyone becomes a valued partner in our shared work.
Collaboration: Access to justice cannot be achieved by working alone. We collaborate and exchange: expertise; guidance; emotional and moral support; with each other, and with our outside partners.
Empathy: Our clients often come to us at the worst points of their lives. To do our work well, we must value the scope of their difficulties, avoid judgmental attitudes, and help them find order amid the chaos.
Impact: We help people help themselves. Even when we can’t spend a lot of time with our clients, we can have an enormous impact. We strive to give our clients the tools to solve their legal problems, and rebuild their lives.
Legal Services Vermont works to:
empower individuals and families
help them learn knowledge and skills that will let them stand up for themselves, and
enable them to take power by controlling and managing their civil legal matters.
Access to Justice
Legal Services Vermont believes the legal system must be open to everyone — whether or not they have a lawyer. We are concerned about barriers to justice such as high court fees, inaccessibility, lack of good, clear information, and any other problems people face when trying to exercise their right to be heard.
Legal Services Vermont works with clients to narrow the gap between the promise of justice and the difficult reality of achieving it.
Access and Equity
We endorse the American Bar Association’s position on racial justice and equitable access.
Justice is foremost in the preamble of our nation’s Constitution. The very intent of the United States Constitution is to “establish justice.” As a justice system, we recognize the barriers that limit the ideal of justice for all, including the legacy of racial discrimination in our institutions, from the courts to legislatures to administrative agencies. Our mission as lawyers and legal professionals is to provide high-quality, accessible, and responsive legal service to people impacted by poverty and oppression. To do this, we must understand the history of racial oppression in our country and how it continues to be embedded in our laws and legal institutions.
We believe legal aid organizations have a direct and fundamental responsibility to ensure that sufficient resources are made available so that equal access to justice is available to all individuals. Legal aid organizations such as ourselves must treat everyone with fairness, dignity, and respect, including recognition and inclusion of their culture, background, identity, or national origin.
As a justice system, we must constantly evaluate and address institutional and systemic racism and our own implicit biases. Ensuring equal justice requires constant vigilance and examination of individual and institutional approaches, processes, and cultures to address their impact on the communities we serve and the community partners who facilitate those services.
The phrase “Equal Justice Under Law” is permanently affixed above the entrance to the United States Supreme Court. Many of these Standards for the Provision of Civil Legal Aid are designed to recognize that far too often in our history, bias, prejudice and oppression have been ongoing barriers to this ideal. While we cannot change the past, we can acknowledge it and change the future. We hope that together we can approach this work with zealous action, fortitude, and hope, and not fear and resistance.
Adapted from the Preamble to the ABA Standards for the Provision of Civil Legal Aid.
Flyers for Community Partners and Advocates