Chairman, Michael Adelman
iIt is an honor and privilege to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Center for Legal Services Corporation (MCLSC). I like to joke that I somehow went from being Vice-Chair of a smaller program, Southeast Mississippi Legal Services, to Chairman of a much bigger program. But, this is an opportunity I really do cherish.
At first, I was somewhat dubious about the merger. However, in the months since having become a member of the Board and now its Chairman, I have observed that the consolidated program has re-energized the commitment to deliver legal services to indigent citizens in the state of Mississippi. Instead of having three (3) or four (4) different programs, with differing concepts regarding the delivery of legal services, we now have a unified, streamlined program which, with proper funding, can deliver legal services in an efficient and meaningful manner to poor people throughout the southern portion of Mississippi.
Without the tireless work of Lindia Robinson, Sam Buchanan, Jr., Julia Crockett, Barbara Brown, and others, the merger would not have been possible. They have been able to piece together out of diverse, sometimes conflicting elements a strong unified program. Today, the MCLSC has a truly wonderful staff of attorneys and support personnel. Equally important, I believe from my experience over the past year, that we have a Board of Directors that is able to provide the leadership and direction which is necessary for this program to succeed.
While the delivery of legal services to indigent citizens in the southern portion of Mississippi is the primary purpose of our program, certainly, the MCLSC also stands as a voice for poor people in the state of Mississippi. It goes without saying that the challenges confronting the indigent population in Mississippi today are as great as they have ever been. The issues confronting poor people today are virtually staggering, e.g., the state budget crisis, the attempt to cut back services to the poor, Medicaid cutbacks, and funding for education-the list is simply too long. The MCLSC and other institutions which are designed to protect the interest of poor people in Mississippi must be significant advocates for poor people in these uncertain and perilous times. Together, we can move closer to our fundamental goal which is "equal justice for all."
- Michael Adelman
Greetings from Executive Director
Greetings from the Mississippi Center for Legal Services Corporation (MCLSC). As many of you know by now, MCLSC is a newly merged non profit corporation funded by the Legal Services Corporation in Washington D. C. We provide free civil legal assistance to eligible poor persons living in 43 counties in Mississippi, which constitute the service areas known formerly as Central Southwest Mississippi Legal Services, Southeast Mississippi Legal Services, and South Mississippi Legal Services.
The merger of the three service areas became official on May 1, 2004. Looking back, the first year of merger has been challenging. MCLSC as a newly merged program faced and is confronting many of the same old obstacles legal services programs have faced since the first program was established in the State. Federal budget cuts, staff reduction, office closings, and opposition from those opposed to the principles of equal justice for all, remain at the o forefront of challenges to the provision of high quality legal services to the thousands of poor persons in Mississippi who desperately need assistance. However, MCLSC Board of Directors, staff, and other stakeholders, remain focused and committed to addressing the legal needs of low income Mississippians. We view the merger of three former service areas as a challenge, but more so as an opportunity to develop and implement a new and comprehensive delivery system to address the legal needs of poor persons in an even more effective and efficient manner. Our goals are simple: 1) to reaffirm our commitment to equal justice for all; 2) to strengthen our existing partnerships and build alliances with others who also believe that everyone is entitled to a full range to legal services; 3) to ensure the quality and responsiveness of legal representation; and 4) to continue to meet the legal needs of the poor and disadvantaged in a changing economy.
We thank everyone who has supported legal services over the years. Without your support, we could not continue to work to level the playing field for poor people. We ask that you remain committed and we encourage others to join the fight so that equal justice for all will someday become a reality, and not just remain an ideal concept.
Sam H. Buchanan, Jr.
Executive Director, Office of Administration