Northeast New Jersey Legal Services’s (NNJLS) mission is to ensure equal access to justice for low-income residents of Bergen, Hudson, and Passaic Counties, New Jersey. No one should be denied a meaningful opportunity to have their day in court simply because they cannot afford a lawyer.
WHAT WE DO
NNJLS is a private non-profit public interest law firm that provides free legal help in civil (non-criminal) matters to low-income and underserved individuals and families. We also work to increase the public’s knowledge of their rights and responsibilities through community legal education.
NNJLS focuses on four core areas of civil law—housing, consumer, family, and public benefits. These are the areas in which our clients are most likely to develop legal problems which they cannot address themselves. With experienced attorneys on staff, NNJLS works to ensure that clients do not lose their housing due to eviction or foreclosure; that they are not harassed by debt collectors or victimized by unfair business practices; that they and their families have fair custody and support arrangements in the event of separation or divorce; and that they can receive the public benefits and other forms of income support they need to maintain their independence and meet their daily needs.
NNJLS also has specialized programs in place to address the legal needs of veterans; seniors; survivors of domestic violence; survivors of sexual assault; students; immigrants; persons living with HIV or AIDS; individuals formerly incarcerated who now face legal barriers to re-entry; individuals experiencing homelessness; and low-income residents with federal income tax issues.
WHOM WE SERVE
Northeast New Jersey Legal Services provides free, high-quality legal assistance to low-income, senior, disabled, and other vulnerable residents of Bergen, Hudson, and Passaic Counties.
Due to limited funding, we cannot serve all those who come to us for help. We do not handle criminal cases, auto accidents or personal injury matters, business disputes, traffic tickets, worker’s compensation, or real estate closing matters. If we cannot provide you with legal assistance, we will try to refer you to local agencies where you may be able to receive the help you need.
If you are a New Jersey resident and need legal assistance but do not live in Bergen, Hudson, or Passaic Counties, click here to contact your local legal services program.
If you live outside New Jersey, please visit the Legal Services Corporation's website to find a legal aid near you.
In response to the increasing demand for legal assistance by people who could not afford private attorneys, many small legal services organizations began to spring up across the United States throughout the early part of the 19th century. This was especially true in urban areas, where large populations of people lived in poverty. Over time, however, it became increasingly apparent that these small networks of mostly pro bono attorneys were insufficient to meet the great need for legal assistance for the disadvantaged.
The origins of Northeast New Jersey Legal Services (NNJLS) go back to the 1960s, a time when concerned attorneys and legislators realized the need to provide funding for legal services organizations and began forming non-profit organizations dedicated solely to providing legal assistance for the impoverished. Bergen County Legal Services, Hudson County Legal Services, and the Passaic County Legal Aid Society had their beginnings in this era. In 2003, these three legal services agencies merged to become Northeast New Jersey Legal Services.
Today, NNJLS is one of the largest providers of free legal assistance in the state, serving a population of great racial, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity. NNJLS’s staff of experienced attorneys and support personnel provides free legal assistance to low-income people from all parts of its service area – from the urban centers of Paterson, Jersey City, and Hackensack to the more “rural” areas of northern Bergen and Passaic Counties. In 2016, over 10,000 people received free legal representation from NNJLS.