Civil Legal Services Division
The Civil Legal Services Division (CLS) provides legal representation to clients in a wide range of civil matters that are collateral or ancillary to the clients’ involvement in the delinquency or criminal justice system, or that involve a restraint on liberty (e.g., certain contempt proceedings). The types of collateral and ancillary civil issues these clients face are complex and almost limitless in number (adverse immigration consequences, loss of parental rights, loss of housing, seizure of property, loss of employment) and can arise even if the person is acquitted of the criminal charges or has been only arrested and never charged.
A major component of CLS’s diverse civil practice is special education advocacy by CLS attorneys with expertise under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, which mandates special accommodations in public schools for children who cannot be educated adequately in a traditional classroom setting due to learning disabilities or other physical or intellectual challenges. Special education advocacy is a cornerstone of CLS’s civil practice because of the vital importance of education and the pressing special educational needs of many court-involved youth.
All of CLS’s legal work is done in close collaboration with PDS’s other divisions to identify clients’ civil legal needs and to provide effective representation to address and resolve clients’ civil legal problems.