Legal Services of North Florida (LSNF) is a non-profit that offers free legal help to low-income individuals in 16 counties in North Florida.
Eligibility is based on income, assets, and case type.
In this article, we will explore the following topics related to Legal Services in North Florida:
- How to apply for legal help
- What types of cases LSNF handles
- How LSNF helps through COVID-19
- How LSNF promotes racial justice
- How LSNF prevents and resolves heir property issues
How to Apply for Legal Help
If you are a low-income person who needs legal help with a civil matter, you can apply for legal help from LSNF in one of the following ways.
- Call the toll-free helpline at 1-800-385-6819 from Monday to Thursday between 8:30 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.
- Visit the online application portal at https://apply.lsnf.org and fill out the intake form.
- We have five office locations in Tallahassee, Quincy, Panama City, Pensacola, and Fort Walton Beach. https://www.lsnf.org/contact/
When you apply for legal help, you will need to provide information about your income, assets, household size, and legal problem.
You will also need to provide documents that support your case, such as court papers, letters, contracts, leases, etc.
LSNF will review your application and determine if you are eligible for their services and if they can handle your case.
If they can help you, they will assign a lawyer or a paralegal to work on your case.
What Types of Cases Legal Services of North Florida Handles
LSNF handles a wide range of civil legal issues that affect the quality of life of low-income people.
Some of the types of cases they handle include:
Legal Services of North Florida Handles Family law
such as divorce, child custody, child support, domestic violence injunctions, paternity, adoption, etc.
Legal Services of North Florida Handles Housing law
such as eviction defense, foreclosure prevention, landlord-tenant disputes, public housing issues, fair housing discrimination, etc.
Legal Services of North Florida Handles Consumer law
such as debt collection defense, bankruptcy, predatory lending, identity theft, etc.
Legal Services of North Florida Handles Domestic/sexual violence law
such as protection orders, safety planning, immigration relief for victims of abuse, etc.
Legal Services of North Florida Handles Disaster legal services
such as FEMA appeals, insurance claims, contractor fraud, etc.
Legal Services of North Florida Handles Elder law
such as guardianship, advance directives, elder abuse/neglect/exploitation, etc.
Legal Services of North Florida HandlesPublic benefits law
such as food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid/Medicare, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability (SSD), unemployment compensation, etc.
Legal Services of North Florida Handles Tax law
such as tax controversies with the IRS or the Florida Department of Revenue, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), etc.
LSNF does not handle criminal cases or fee-generating cases (such as personal injury or workers’ compensation).
If they cannot help you with your case, they may refer you to another agency or organization that can.
How Legal Services of North Florida Helps Through COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges and hardships for low-income people in north Florida.
LSNF has been working hard to help their clients and communities cope with the impact of the pandemic on their legal rights and needs.
Some of the ways LSNF helps through COVID-19 include:
- Visit https://www.lsnf.org/covid19/ for updates on eviction moratoriums, stimulus payments, unemployment benefits, and healthcare access.
- Conducting virtual legal clinics and webinars on various topics related to COVID-19 and its effects on low-income people’s legal issues.
- Advocating for policy changes and systemic reforms that protect and promote the rights and interests of low-income people during and after the pandemic.
- Collaborating with other community partners and stakeholders to coordinate and deliver effective and efficient legal services to those in need.
How Legal Services of North Florida Promotes Racial Justice?
LSNF is committed to advancing racial justice and equity in the legal system and society.
Also, LSNF recognizes that racism and discrimination are pervasive and systemic problems that affect the lives and opportunities of people of color, especially low-income people of color.
LSNF strives to address these problems through various strategies, such as:
- Providing high-quality legal representation to low-income people of color who face legal barriers and challenges due to their race or ethnicity.
- Educating and empowering low-income people of color about their legal rights and remedies.
- Promoting community outreach and education for racial justice and equality, particularly addressing the impact on low-income people of color.
- Participating in coalitions and networks that advocate for racial justice and equity at the local, state, and national levels.
- Supporting and developing the leadership and diversity of LSNF staff, board, volunteers, and partners.
- Pursuing organizational excellence and accountability in advancing racial justice and equity within LSNF.
As part of its efforts to promote racial justice, LSNF has recently announced that four of its staff members have been selected as (RJI) Fellows for 2023.
RJI trains legal advocates to pursue racial equity.
Fellows join a network of 200+ advocates working to eliminate disparities and achieve justice.
How Legal Services of North Florida Prevents and Resolves Heir Property Issues
Heir property: ownership without will or plan.
Many heirs inherit as tenants in common.
Common in low-income communities, especially among African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, rural whites.
Problems for heirs.
Lack of clear title
The heirs do not have a deed or other document that proves their ownership of the property. This can prevent them from selling, mortgaging, or improving the property.
Risk of loss
The heirs may lose the property due to tax sales, partition sales, adverse possession, fraud, or foreclosure.
The heirs may disagree on how to use, manage, or divide the property. This can lead to disputes, lawsuits, or estrangement among family members.
Loss of wealth
The heirs may not be able to benefit from the value or potential of the property.
This can perpetuate intergenerational poverty and inequality.
LSNF helps prevent and resolve heir property issues by providing legal assistance to low-income heirs who own or inherit heir property. Some of the services LSNF provides include:
- Drafting wills and estate plans to avoid creating heir property in the future.
- Conducting title searches and clearing title defects to establish clear title to heir property.
- Negotiating with co-heirs or third parties to preserve or transfer heir property.
- Representing heirs in court proceedings involving heir property, such as probate, partition, quiet title, etc.
- Educating heirs and communities about heir property rights and responsibilities.
LSNF has recently announced that it has received an award through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLBank Atlanta) Heirs’ Property Prevention and Resolution Grant Initiative.
This initiative provides funding to legal services organizations to help low-income heirs prevent or resolve heir property issues.
LSNF will use the award to expand its capacity and reach in providing legal services to low-income heirs in north Florida.
If you need legal help for civil matters in north Florida but can’t afford it, check out Legal Services of North Florida.
They offer free representation in various areas and are also committed to promoting justice and preventing property issues.
Apply via their website, helpline, or offices. https://www.lsnf.org/contact/
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