Our Impact

Because we use the law to help indigent clients meet important life needs, our clients are able to access decent, safe, and affordable housing; safety from domestic violence or other abuse; medical and behavioral health care; a good education for children with disabilities; protection against consumer scams that target the elderly; and protection against illegal discrimination. 


Cases handled in 2019


People helped in 2019 (including 5,409 children)


of our clients received information about their rights and how to enforce those rights


Examples of positive substantive outcomes include:

Sandra went to court for help getting her baby back from the child’s father. He had forcibly taken the five-month-old from the home they shared with Sandra’s parents and refused to tell her where the baby was. The court ordered that the father give Sandra access to their child and referred Sandra to Connecticut Legal Services for help. The court also ordered that Sandra and the baby’s father appear in court ten days later. Sandra’s CLS attorney served the baby’s father with the court orders on two separate occasions, including faxing the paperwork to him at a shelter in New York. When the court was going to render its final decision because the baby’s father had not shown up again, he appeared. At court, Sandra’s CLS attorney was able to talk to the father and work out an agreement giving Sandra custody. The baby’s father could visit the child only in Connecticut with Sandra present. The court accepted the agreement and ordered the baby’s father to return the child to Sandra by 7 p.m. that evening. He did not. Instead, he returned to New York and got a judge there to grant him custody. Sandra went to New York and showed the court the orders she had gotten in Connecticut. At that time, the New York court ordered that the baby be returned to Sandra immediately. Sandra, after one month of court appearances, finally has her baby back.

Tom is an elderly man whose extremely limited income consists only of Social Security payments. He was getting phone calls and dunning letters from collection agencies and a law firm claiming that Tom owed them more than $6,000. He contacted Connecticut Legal Services because he was scared. Tom’s CLS attorney wrote cease and desist letters informing the creditors that they could not collect from Tom, even if the debt were actually his—and it was not. Under the Connecticut Credit Collection Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, creditors cannot harass people who are judgement proof—Tom’s Social Security could not be garnished. The letters had their desired effect, and Tom was no longer harassed.

Esther is an elderly immigrant who had been sponsored by her adult son 17 years earlier. She has limited English proficiency and no income and couldn’t meet her basic needs. When Esther attempted to seek state assistance, she was denied because she had not provided financial information from her sponsor. A social worker with Protective Services for the Elderly became aware of Esther’s situation and contacted Connecticut Legal Services for help. Her son refused to help his mother or provide any financial information to the Department of Social Services (DSS). Esther’s CLS attorney informed Esther of an exception to the rules if her sponsor refused to cooperate, which DSS had not done. Esther’s CLS advocates applied for and secured cash assistance, medical assistance, and food stamps for her after successfully arguing that the exception applied to Esther.

Patty, a Section 8 Program tenant, came to Connecticut Legal Services for help with two problems. Patty’s Section 8 worker had recalculated her rent, but it was more than Patty could afford. The worker insisted that the calculations were correct and that Patty’s income had caused the rent increase. In addition, Patty’s landlord constantly threatened her with eviction if she did not make additional side payments to him. Section 8 does not allow property owners to demand such side payments, but Patty was not aware of that. She had no place to go with her children, so she made the side payments. Her CLS attorney immediately reviewed Patty’s income and the Section 8 calculations and found that Patty’s monthly income was mistakenly listed as weekly income. The attorney informed Section 8 of the mistake and requested that Patty’s income be recalculated correctly. Section 8 agreed. Patty’s CLS attorney then wrote a letter to the landlord informing him that he could not extort side payments and requested a return of the side payments Patty had made, noting that if he did not agree, further legal action would be taken. Patty’s landlord, upon receipt of the letter, credited all the money that Patty had paid. The return of these funds made a significant difference to Patty, who has very little income.