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About Us

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Program Overview:

Northwestern Legal Services (NWLS) is a private non-profit corporation dedicated to providing free legal representation to low income people with civil legal problems.  We provide service to eligible clients throughout  ten counties in northwestern Pennsylvania.   Client eligibility  is based on the type of case involved and  financial and asset Eligibility Guidelines established by the federal and state governments . 

We provide service in a wide range of matters including public benefits, family law, housing, health care, education, and employment.  

The NWLS Mission Statement:

Northwestern Legal Services assists low income individuals and families by guiding them through the legal system using advocacy and education to obtain justice with the goal of improving their quality of life and strengthening our community.

In addition to the leadership of our Executive Director, our Board of Directors plays an active role in our program. All ten counties are represented by at least one attorney and one client member. Attorney members are appointed by their respective bar associations, and client members are appointed by a community organization in their area. An at-large member is appointed by the Board of Directors.


In the late 1960's, 38 attorneys in Erie County believed in the notion of equal justice under law. To make this notion a reality, they organized and incorporated the Erie County Legal Services Association, now known as Northwestern Legal Services. Access to justice was not only their dream but was, and still is, a reality.

In May 2009 NWLS was excited to celebrate our 40th year anniversary. See commemorative video of 38th original incorporators and details of how we first began.

Needs Assessment:

Periodically, our program goes through a Legal Needs Assessment to determine the needs of our clients within our ten county service area.  To assist in this process, we will widely distribute questionnaires throughout the community requesting input in this process.  After assessing the collected information and input from the community, we have restructured our priority areas of representation.