> Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM)

Represents low-income, low-opportunity individuals in civil legal challenges

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri (LSEM) represents low-income, lowopportunity individuals in civil legal challenges. The firm’s suite of services is as dynamic as it is critical in helping to bring clients out of poverty and into the opportunities they deserve.

The most honorable title you can be entrusted with, says LSEM Director Dan Glazier, is that of advocate. The specific title may change across industries— doctors are advocates, as are social workers, for example—but an advocate is someone for whom a client’s well-being is the highest priority.

This, says Dan, is the only kind of lawyer he ever wanted to be, and he found his place with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri in 1981.

“What we believe in is social justice and in using the law as a tool to make positive change for those in need. Our motto is Action. Justice. Hope,” Dan says. “Those who don’t have the economic means to pay for legal services shouldn’t then be left out of the justice system.”

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri distinguishes itself in a number of ways. Thanks to funding from the Legal Services Corporation and many others, the firm offers its services free of charge to those who are income-eligible, doing so across 21 counties and in conjunction with over 150 partner agencies and organizations. LSEM has a myriad of programs to help our clients overcome barriers to their success.

One of the largest programs is targeted to serve exclusively domestic abuse victims/survivors, providing assistance in securing protective orders, in safety planning, and in matters of custody, working to keep their clients’ families safe and stable. Finally, LSEM’s staff members include not only lawyers and paralegals but social workers as well.

It’s all part of what Dan calls “holistic advocacy”— legal and social support leveraged in combination in order to address all aspects of whatever a client’s situation may be.  LSEM provides foundational assistance for families. An example of this is the educational advocacy work for children with special needs, special circumstances, or developmental differences.

LSEM works with students and their parents and school personnel to create Individualized Education Plans for these children, ensuring they don’t get left behind in school, which in turn decreases the likelihood that they will later drop out. It’s a very early, very important step in LSEM’s work to address the school-to-prison pipeline. To that end, the firm also works with low-income, low-opportunity high schoolers and young people, to ensure that they have the right to stay in school and receive a proper education.

“It’s about creating building blocks for them to succeed and to surmount those barriers that might exist,” Dan says.  Another obstacle LSEM helps its clients to overcome is access to quality healthcare. By helping them to sign up for or maintain Medicaid and Medicare, and by ensuring they get the care they need covered, LSEM safeguards its clients against missing out on healthcare simply because the system is difficult to navigate.

LSEM also advocates for its clients as they seek to secure safe and affordable housing, including public and Section 8 housing. But the firm extends its services beyond individual housing help to rehabilitating communities through its Neighborhood Vacancy Initiative. By partnering with neighborhood associations in low-income, low-opportunity neighborhoods, LSEM leverages Missouri law to repurpose abandoned properties into viable, affordable housing, rebuilding communities literally from the ground up.

The firm’s innovative spirit is also reflected in its “Microenterprise” work with entrepreneurs who lack access to the resources, whether it be financial backing or the basic knowledge of how to set up a business, that would THE REGION’S SOURCE FOR HOLISTIC ADVOCACY allow them to simply get started. LSEM connects these entrepreneurs with volunteer attorneys throughout the region who can walk them through the steps, legal and otherwise, to starting and growing a small business.

Because of this collective effort, more entrepreneurs can access the region’s business ecosystem and sustain enterprises from lawn-care companies to beauty salons to high-tech ventures and even nonprofits geared toward giving back to low-income, low-opportunity communities like these entrepreneurs grew up in.  “We work to help people achieve what everyone wants: the opportunity to succeed,” Dan says. “When you’re low-income, it can feel like the doors are closed against you. We’re using Missouri law to open those doors.”

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri

www.lsem.org
800.444.0514 314.534.4200
4232 Forest Park Avenue Saint Louis, MO 63108

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