Statement of The Legal Aid Society on its 141st Anniversary

“If we are to keep our democracy there must be one commandment: thou shalt not ration justice.”

The words of the Honorable Learned Hand, Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, spoken at the 75th anniversary dinner of The Legal Aid Society in 1951, were never truer than they are today, our 141st anniversary.

Commitment to equal justice for all has been the life work of The Legal Aid Society since 1876. Our dedicated staff, 1,100 public lawyers assisted by more than 700 social workers, investigators, paralegals, and support and administrative staff, are proud of our extraordinary service, our tireless defense of the poor, and our provision of courageous counsel to New York’s neediest. We, and those who came before us, have been honored to say to more than 14 million New Yorkers: “I am your lawyer. I will fight for you.”

As the celebration on International Women's Day coincides with Legal Aid's anniversary, it is important to note that from the day we were founded, The Legal Aid Society has championed the rights of women and we were in the forefront fighting for women who were servants and working in sweat shops.

Those who formed the Society could not have imagined the changes 141 years would bring. Yet their vision that equal access to justice should not be denied because of poverty was a dream- a tremendous dream, that we work every day to make a reality. Today in the face of new challenges confronting our clients, we stand with them, steadfast for justice.