Who We Are
The Mississippi Center for Legal Services Corporation (MCLSC) chartered on May 1, 2005, covers five (5) historic programs: Central Mississippi Legal Services (CMLS), Southwest Mississippi Legal Services (SWMLS), East Mississippi Legal Services (EM LS) , South Mississippi Legal Services (SMLS) and Southeast Mississippi Legal Services Corporation (SEMLSC). Prior to the present merger, there had been two other mergers: on January 1, 2000, SEMLSC merged with EMLS, maintaining the name Southeast Mississippi Legal Services Corporation. In September 2001, CMLS and SWMLS merged to form Central Southwest Mississippi Legal Services.
MCLSC'S primary funder, providing over 90% of funding, is the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in Washington, D. C., a private non profit corporation established by Congress in 1974 to assure equal access to justice under the law for all Americans unable to afford representation. The MCLSC has sought to supplement its LSC grant with funds from federal, state and local government agencies, foundations, and private giving. For many years, the second source of funding for the programs was IOLTA (Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts).
MCLSC, through its predecessor programs, experienced peak funding around 1980. Since that time, there has been an approximate fifty percent (50%) reduction in funds, factoring inflation. Most recently, upon completion of the 2000 U. S. Census, federal funds from LSC were redistributed causing Mississippi to lose almost 1 million dollars in funds. Simultaneously, due to the down turn in the economy and a drop in interest rates, IOLTA funds dropped seventy (70%) percent.
At peak funding, the five (5) historic programs encompassed by the MCLSC had seventeen (17) offices, and a staff of approximately 138 with 48 attorneys. In 2004, MCLSC had a staff of 44 with 13 attorneys, and only five (5) offices located in Jackson, McComb, Hattiesburg, Meridian, and Gulfport. Provided funding permits, to the greatest extent possible to address the critical access concerns, satellite offices will be in Natchez, Vicksburg, Laurel, Pascagoula, and Vicksburg.
Our Mission is to provide quality legal services to the poor by effectively and aggressively representing our clients, by implementing strong and viable community education programs, and by maximizing available resources, thereby providing hope and encouragement for the economically disadvantaged and motivating and assisting our clients to become more independent and self-sufficient, and thus realize the goal of "Equal Justice Under the Law."