How people in poverty can get free legal help in Tennessee

Getting connected to free legal help can be the difference in being homeless or not, suffering continued abuse or achieving protection from abuse, maintaining financial self-sufficiency or being driven into hopeless debt.

Op-Ed (Tennessee)

Ann Pruit
Tennessean, The
December 8, 2015

Tags: Access to Justice, Justice for All

Organizations mentioned/involved: Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS),


Too often, low-income Tennesseans go into court without the benefit of legal representation.


he helpline attorney gave her legal advice and ended her frustration by directly connecting her to intake at the local legal aid office (nonprofit law firm that provides free representation based on income and other criteria), and staying on the line to facilitate the intake process. Legal aid took the case and negotiated the solution outside of court, successfully resolving Mary’s problem in a way that did not trigger her PTSD.

In addition to being a lifeline to people like Mary who need legal representation to protect their rights, legal representation for problems relating to basic human needs can be a safety net that protects people from falling into poverty or dropping further into poverty.

As a result, programs that provide free civil legal representation are proven to produce a positive economic impact in our state.