Our mission is to secure justice for and protect the rights of needy persons residing in Jackson County so that such persons shall not by reason of being in financial need be denied equal protection under the law
To fulfill its mission CNPLS is a private non-profit law firm, providing high quality legal representation to elderly and low-income residents of Jackson County. Clients include individuals or families living at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level and/or are over 60, who struggle with problems stemming from poor health care, inadequate education, a lack of food, a scarcity of jobs, domestic violence, and other life-and death survival issues. Our goal is not to “win” cases, but to bring legal structure to social problems.
Our funding comes from individual donors, the state and local bar associations, and private foundations, with some state and local government money.
Our lawyers, some of whom have been licensed to practice law for up to 30 years, are highly trained and expert with an 80% success rate. Legal Services’ specialized practice allows attorneys to use a team approach to provide high quality representation while being cost effective and efficient.
Our offices are located in downtown Medford, close to transit services, other human services agencies, local government offices, and state and federal courts. Since March 15, 2020, our offices have been closed to the public, with staff working remotely. Our support staff facilitate client access to our services via telephone, mail, email, text, and fax.
Every other year, CNPLS conducts a community wide survey to gain input as we re-set our priorities. We utilize online surveys in both English and Spanish and surveys and hold focus groups with local community partners. We also conduct an advocacy planning survey to address the client community's changing needs. We individuals who represent our partner organizations in the community. These agencies include United Way, ACCESS (CAP agency), Continuum of Care, City of Medford, City of Ashland, Jackson County Health and Human Services, Jackson County Housing Authority, Rogue Valley Council of Governments (AAA agency), Community Works, Veterans Administration, LINC, the local bar, and bench.
Oregon lawyers established the Campaign for Equal Justice (CEJ) in 1991, with the mission of making equal access to justice a reality for all Oregonians. CEJ is the support organization for Oregon’s legal aid programs. CNPLS and the members of the Jackson County Bar are some of the leading contributors of CEJ. Support for CEJ, makes a difference for low-income and elderly Oregonians all across the state. Legal aid programs serve people with the most critical legal needs—food, shelter, medical care, income maintenance, and physical safety.
Statewide there are approximately 750,000 low-income and elderly Oregonians eligible for legal aid services. The need has increased under pressure from the Covid pandemic and wildfires. Oregon legal aid programs served about 39,000 families and individuals last year, and helped an additional 122,000 people through advocacy on benefits and programs that affect low-income people. Despite the tremendous efforts of CEJ volunteers and contributors, legal aid still meets just 15% of the legal needs of Oregon’s poor.
Each year the Center for NonProfit Legal Services honors the life work of William V. Deatherage, an attorney dedicated to the legal profession and to his community. This Pro Bono Award recognizes the efforts of lawyers in Jackson and Josephine Counties who commit themselves to the vision of equal access to justice. Nominations are received each year and the recipient is given the award at the annual Founder’s breakfast.
Our Immigration Law Project (ILP) concentrates on finding pathways to secure status by focusing on citizenship. Our housing unit has increased our outreach and legal education for fair housing and tenants' rights/responsibilities.
Working with our community partners ACCESS and the City of Ashland, we provide low-income Jackson County residents with the legal knowledge that allows them to retain the scarce housing currently available in our area.
The organization was originally established in 1972 for the purpose of providing civil legal assistance to low-income and elderly residents of Jackson County. Before 1972 and the formal establishment of Jackson County Legal Services, the forerunner of the Center for Non-Profit Legal Services, Inc. (CNPLS), individual private attorneys volunteered their services to help Jackson County’s low-income residents. This volunteer effort became more formalized in 1966 when a Legal Aid Committee was established under the Jackson County Bar Association. Some 30 volunteer attorneys including Michael Brian, William Mansfield, Stuart Foster, William Deatherage, William Purdy, and others interviewed applicants on a first-come, first-served basis at the Jackson County Courthouse.
From 1970 through 1972, legal aid in Jackson County was a VISTA project, and through that structure a more focused approach for legal aid was possible. Milton Nelson was the original Director of Jackson County VISTA projects. The Bar Association was instrumental in creating and funding this non-profit legal aid organization.
The only service of its kind in the county, CNPLS has resolved over 36,000 cases since its incorporation in 1972. From its beginnings, the success has been made possible through dedicated staff members, the private bar, local and state government, cooperating community agencies and our poor clients whose courage and convictions helped reach solutions that better their lives and those of their children.