Housing Justice Project

Preventing Homelessness for Vulnerable Families in King County

Providing legal advice and representation to over 70,000 vulnerable, low-income people in Washington state each year.


Our Story:

In 2004, Washington’s legal aid community formed the Alliance for Equal Justice to increase client service capacity through efficient and effective collaboration.

Each year, the Alliance for Equal Justice helps more than 70,000 vulnerable, low-income people in Washington secure justice through its network of civil legal aid programs by providing comprehensive legal information, advice and representation.

Today, more than 40 organizations make up the Alliance for Equal Justice. These members and supporters are organizations whose predominant mission is to provide access to justice on issues such as foreclosure, domestic violence, education, health care, and employment, to name a few.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Is CIvil Legal Aid?

Civil legal aid is free legal advice, representation or other legal assistance provided to vulnerable individuals, living under the federal poverty line, who have civil (non-criminal) legal problems and cannot otherwise afford legal help. Services can be as simple as educating clients about their rights and responsibilities. Complex problems may require more extensive representation. For clients, these services mean the difference between hunger and food on the table, bankruptcy and economic stability, unemployment and productive work.

Why Is Civil Legal Aid Important?

Fair and equal justice is a fundamental principal of our democracy. Our laws guarantee basic rights and protections for all of us — not just those who can afford a lawyer. In reality, three out of four low-income households in Washington face an urgent civil legal problem each year. Only 20 percent of those households receive legal help or representation. The consequences for these households can be severe.

What Is The Difference Between Civil And Criminal Legal Issues?

Criminal issues involve an act in violation of penal law and are offenses against the State or the United States. Some examples include theft, assault and some traffic offenses. Civil cases are usually between individuals, businesses, governmental bodies or other organizations. For example, landlord/tenant disputes, child custody, and predatory lending are all civil legal issues. Low-income defendants in criminal cases are generally entitled to a free attorney. However, the right to counsel in civil cases has not been fully acknowledged; people with civil legal problems are rarely appointed an attorney if they cannot afford representation. This is why civil legal aid is such a critical resource.

How Can I Help?

Visit the “Get Involved” on the menu bar, where you will find how to donate your time (if you’re a law student or attorney), donate, contact your legislators, and where to refer people in need of help.

"As a unified Alliance, we are working towards ensuring access to justice positively impacts thousands of low-income people that require legal aid services to meet their basic human needs."

− Patrick Palace, 2013-2014 WSBA President

"As an Alliance, we share a deep commitment to serve and advocate alongside our clients as we seek justice. CLS’ vision of justice is that when people have the necessary tools and opportunity to achieve social and economic justice, a more equitable and inclusive society is possible."

− Aurora Martin, Columbia Legal Services Executive Director

"Pro bono services and legal aid programs are critical to helping the most vulnerable in our community enforce their rights and protections under the law."

− Bob Ferguson, State Attorney General