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Atlanta Legal Aid Society began as the dream of a young lawyer named E. Smythe Gambrell. Having worked with the Legal Aid Bureau as a student at Harvard Law School, Mr. Gambrell came home to Atlanta with the idea that he could found an organization that would help returning World War I veterans victimized by salary buying/payday lending scams and desperate women with family issues. Sixteen of Mr. Gambrell's fellow Atlanta Bar Association members signed on with him and, with a donation from the Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta Legal Aid Society was born.
Throughout the ensuing 90 years, Legal Aid grew, always on the cutting edge in the practice of poverty law. During the 1940s and ‘50s, Legal Aid had two female executive directors in a time when few women were practicing law. In the 1960s and ‘70s, Legal Aid literally changed the landscape for low-income people with vigorous and innovative advocacy that changed laws and empowered clients as the program expanded into all of Fulton, Clayton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Cobb counties. The 1980s and ‘90s brought a new sophistication, with diversification of funding and development of special projects serving particularly vulnerable populations. The 2000s have continued the trend, incorporating new styles of pro bono work and volunteerism into the program's operations.
The single thread that has remained constant throughout those 90 years is the support of the legal community. Lawyers built Legal Aid, sustained Legal Aid and continue to provide the rich soil in which the program flourishes today, across five counties and even statewide, serving nearly 25,000 clients each year.
Join us on October 2, 2014 at the Georgia Aquarium as we celebrate the legal and philanthropic communities that make it possible.
Together, we can!
More News and Stories
The Atlanta Legal Aid Society will hold its 22nd Run for Justice in Oakhurst on November 8th, 2014. The event will benefit the general operating fund of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. Participants in the Run for Justice will enjoy a beautiful a 5-k course beginning and ending at One Step at A Time, 650 East Lake Drive, Decatur, GA 30030. Others can enjoy the crisp autumn day with the 5k walk, great for families and children. Jogging strollers, kids and pets are welcome! Awards will be presented to the top 5-k finishers and teams in a variety of categories, including pets, children and strollers. Families, corporate, church, school and community teams are welcome. We always need volunteers, too!