Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc. (BRLS) is a nonprofit charitable civil legal aid program providing free legal assistance in civil matters of critical importance to low-income residents of the Shenandoah Valley and Roanoke Valley.
BRLS is committed to eliminating poverty-based inequities in the civil justice system by providing high-quality legal advice and representation to low-income residents of our service area, folks who would otherwise be unable to obtain legal help due to their poverty.
Our mission is premised on the recognition that the American ideal of “Equal Justice for All” can be achieved only if we provide the poor meaningful access to our judicial system:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“It is the daily; it is the small; it is the cumulative injuries of little people that we are here to protect….If we are able to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: THOU SHALT NOT RATION JUSTICE.” — Judge Learned Hand, at the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Legal Aid Society of New York, Feb. 16, 1951
“Equal justice under law is not merely a caption on the facade of the Supreme Court building, it is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society. It is one of the ends for which our entire legal system exists…it is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status.” — Lewis Powell, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice
“Without equal access to the law, the system not only robs the poor of their only protection, but it places it in the hands of their oppressors the most powerful and ruthless weapon ever created.” — Reginald Heber Smith, Justice and the Poor, 1919
“The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity.” — St. John Chrysostom, c.347-407
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” — Book of Proverbs, 31:8-9
“Poor people have access to the American courts in the same sense that the Christians had access to the lions when they were dragged into a Roman arena.” — California Court of Appeals Justice Earl Johnson Jr.
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” — Fredrick Douglass
“Democracy is when the indigent, and not men of property, are the rulers.” — Aristotle
“There can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has.” — Hugo Black, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1964