Frequently asked questions
WHAT IS OUR MISSION
To provide first rate legal services to the economically disadvantaged of SWLA and to use our legal skill and abilities for the bettermend of our community.
WHAT ARE WE?
We are a local, private, not-for-profit law firm. We are a United Way Agency. Our funding comes from grants, private donations, and reduced fees that our clients pay us. We are governed by a local Board of Directors.
WHAT DO WE DO?
We provide first rate, reduced-fee legal services to the economically disadvantaged of SWLA. Our Clients typically have: (1) jobs, (2) low to moderate income, and (3) some type of sincere legal need. With limited exceptions – our clients have to pay something for our services. We charge rates based on a sliding scale.
Additionally, we manage and operate the SWLA Bar Association's Law Library on behalf of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury. The Law Library is a legal library that is utilized daily by lawyers and lay people of SWLA.
ARE WE THE SAME THING AS "LEGAL AID"?
NO. We are not Legal Aid. Acadiana Legal Services, located in the Capital One Tower, is our area's "Legal Aid Provider". Acadiana's no. is 337-439-0377. Acadiana provides free legal services to those who are at 125% of the poverty level as defined by the Federal Government.
By contrast, the SWLA Law Center represents people who are "too rich" for legal aid. We serve those whose household incomes are too low to be able to afford a private attorney, but are too high to qualify for Legal Aid.
HOW DO I GET TO SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY?
Call the Law Center at (337) 436-3308 and schedule an appointment. In most cases, we charge $75.00 for consultations. The attorney will discuss fees and a payment plan with you during the consultation.
HOW LONG HAVE WE BEEN IN BUSINESS?
Since 1967. The organization formed in October 10, 1967, under the name of SWLA Legal Services Society Inc. At that time this was the first legal services provider in Louisiana. The original incorporators included: R. W. Farrar, Jr.; A. Lane Plauche; Fred H. Sievert, Jr.; Warren E. Hood; William L. McLeod, Jr.; and A.J. Planchard. Three of the original members became judges and two became heads of major law firms.
DO WE HANDLE CRIMINAL MATTERS?
NO – we only handle civil matters.
DO WE SUE INSURANCE COMPANIES OR BUSINESS FOR INJURIES AND DAMAGES?
NO – we do not accept fee generating cases such as personal injury, social security disability, workers compensation, bankruptcy, and the like. There are plenty of private practice attorneys available to handle these types of cases.
We typically take cases that lawyers are not interested in handling unless they are able to secure their fees with a large retainer (i.e. child custody, divorce, domestic violence, community property issues, contested successions not involving large assets, wrongful eviction, interdictions, etc.).
DO WE SUE GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES?
WHAT IS OUR STAFF MAKE-UP?
A director/attorney, three staff attorneys, two paralegals, an office coordinator, a CPA-Controller, a librarian, one to two interns, and any number of volunteers – all good, professional, and pleasant.
WHERE ARE WE?
4TH Floor Magnolia Building, 1101 Lakeshore Drive, Suite 402, in Downtown Lake Charles.
WHO IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR?
Mark M. Judson