by Richard Croxdale
In 1966, the Austin Legal Aid Society was established. It was one of the first in the country that took advantage of that vital section of the War on Poverty laws passed during the Johnson Presidency. The Austin office was also one of the more active and dynamics offices in the nation.
Legal Aid is often called The Law Firm for the Poor. The Austin office provided everyday services such as adoptions, divorces, and wills. They helped clients negotiate the bureaucracy to acquire food and housing and medical care.
Until the 1980’s, Legal Aid was also involved in legal reform. The local office battled Urban Renewal, unfair landlords, gentrification. Legal Aid sued to end unconstitutional jail conditions, fought for a warranty of habitability for renters, and helped establish due process for mental health patients.
PHIT produced a documentary in 2006 to celebrate 40 years of outstanding service to Austin and to the nation.