New Hampshire Legal Assistance

Helping to balance the scales of justice for everyone since 1971.

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Posted May 12, 2017

Statement of NHLA Executive Director Lynne Parker on Governor Sununu budget proposal

Posted Feb 09, 2017

February 9, 2017: 

“On behalf of the thousands of people New Hampshire Legal Assistance helps each year, I would like to thank Governor Sununu for proposing an increase to NHLA’s state appropriation for the coming biennium.

With this additional funding, we believe we will be able to help as many as 750 additional people each year.

Our clients are victims of domestic violence seeking safety from abuse, and families fighting to avoid homelessness. They are seniors and people with disabilities trying to access the federal benefits to which they are entitled, and with which they can contribute to their local communities.

This appropriation will allow us to increase staffing in our Claremont  and Berlin offices. We currently have just three attorneys and one paralegal serving the entirety of the state north and west of Concord.

The rural areas of our state have struggled to recover from the economic recession, and residents there continue to experience rates of poverty significantly higher than other parts of New Hampshire. At the same time, these impoverished rural areas have seen a significant recent decline in the number of attorneys available to provide legal services to the poor. At NHLA, we strive to fill that gap.

I applaud Governor Sununu and his administration for recognizing the value of investing in civil legal aid.”

New Hampshire Legal Assistance is a state-wide non-profit law firm representing low-income and elderly New Hampshire residents who cannot afford a lawyer. NHLA maintains offices in Berlin, Claremont, Concord, Manchester and Portsmouth. For more information about New Hampshire Legal Assistance, please contact Communications Manager Sarah Palermo at 603-369-6650.

NHLA hires Dawn McKinney as Policy Director

Posted Jan 12, 2017

January 12, 2017: New Hampshire Legal Assistance hires Dawn McKinney as Policy Director

CONCORD – New Hampshire Legal Assistance Executive Director Lynne Parker announced today that the state-wide nonprofit law firm has hired Dawn McKinney as policy director.

McKinney most recently served as director of state affairs at the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), based in Bethesda, MD and Washington, D.C. She has been with NACHC since 2003.

New Hampshire Legal Assistance is a state-wide non-profit law firm serving low-income and vulnerable New Hampshire families and seniors. Through individual representation, advice, counsel and systemic policy advocacy, the civil legal aid advocates at NHLA work to provide each New Hampshire resident equal access to justice under the law.

As policy director, McKinney will manage NHLA’s policy advocacy practice in a number of areas that affect the lives of low-income and vulnerable New Hampshire residents. NHLA policy advocacy covers diverse issues spanning health care, housing and homeownership, education, intimate partner violence, and consumer protection.

“NHLA has a longstanding reputation for credible, expert, ethical policy advocacy on many issues, and for our many productive partnerships with allies across the political spectrum,” Parker said. “Dawn brings extensive experience collaborating with stakeholders in all fifty states and navigating the complex landscape of health care policy. With her technical expertise and appreciation for the nuances of state-level policymaking, Dawn is positioned to deepen NHLA’s engagement with New Hampshire’s legislative and executive branches on the issues that matter most to our clients.”

“Improving the lives of low-income and vulnerable people has been the cornerstone of my advocacy work in health care policy around the country,” McKinney said. “I am excited to have the opportunity to do that work here in my home state on behalf of New Hampshire’s leading anti-poverty organization.”

McKinney, who lives in Concord with her husband and two children, is scheduled to begin her work with NHLA on January 23.

Current NHLA Policy Director Sarah Mattson Dustin will transition to work specifically advocating for policies to prevent childhood lead poisoning.

New Hampshire Legal Assistance has offices in Berlin, Claremont, Concord, Manchester and Portsmouth. Since 1971, NHLA has worked to fulfill America’s promise of equal access to justice by providing civil legal services to New Hampshire’s most vulnerable residents, including education and empowerment, advice, representation, and advocacy for systemic improvements.

NHLA receives 3-year grant for multi-faceted work to combat childhood lead poisoning

Posted Nov 21, 2016NHLA receives 3-year grant for multi-faceted work to combat childhood lead poisoning

November 19, 2016 - All children deserve access to clean air and water so they have a chance to grow and thrive. But poor children are more likely than others to be exposed to the negative health effects of environmental hazards like industrial waste, pollution and lead poisoning from paint and water. 

The New Hampshire Bar Foundation recently approved $450,000 for a New Hampshire Legal Assistance initiative to prevent and/or mitigate the effects of childhood lead poisoning in low-income New Hampshire communities. This work, funded by part of New Hampshire’s share of a national settlement with Bank of America, will improve living conditions for individual children and their families and promote better housing conditions in the most vulnerable neighborhoods of our state.

New Hampshire Legal Assistance is the state-wide non-profit law firm serving low-income and vulnerable New Hampshire families and seniors. Through individual representation, advice, counsel and systemic policy advocacy, the civil legal aid advocates at NHLA work to provide each New Hampshire resident equal access to justice under law.

In a January 2014 report, the Conservation Law Foundation identified lead poisoning as the most pressing and immediate threat to the health and safety of low-income children in New Hampshire. As the country learned from widespread lead contamination in water pipes in Flint, Michigan, lead poisoning can have serious and permanent adverse effects on a child’s intellectual, cognitive, and behavioral development. In extreme cases, it can be life threatening.

Every year between 2008 and 2013, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services reported that more than 1,000 children in New Hampshire under 6 were found to have lead levels higher than 5 micrograms per deciliter. Since fewer than 40 percent of children under 6 were included in these tests, it’s likely many more children have elevated lead levels.

Since the 1990s, NHLA Housing Justice Project Director Elliott Berry has been at the forefront of efforts to eradicate the incidence of environmental risks in housing. Berry will oversee this new effort, and will be joined in this work by Sarah Mattson Dustin, NHLA’s recent Policy Director.

“All parents want their children to grow and thrive. But low-income parents often face the invisible hurdles of lead paint and other environmental hazards as they try to provide healthy home environments for their children. The most frustrating thing is, childhood lead poisoning is entirely preventable,” Berry said. “Through this new effort, NHLA and our partners will make an important and lasting contribution to New Hampshire’s low-income communities. Together, we can improve long-term health outcomes and reach a better future for our state’s most vulnerable children.”

NHLA’s work under this grant will focus on several key initiatives over the next three years:

  • Work with the legislative Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Screening Commission to develop legislation to promote statewide acceptance and compliance with Essential Maintenance Practices, which landlords can use to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in rental housing at an affordable cost.
  • Advocate for legislative efforts to deal with the threat of lead in New Hampshire’s water systems.
  • Combat efforts at retaliation against tenants who report elevated blood lead levels in their children, and work with recalcitrant landlords to eliminate lead hazards in their rental properties and comply with relocation obligations.
  • Engage in outreach to affected and at-risk communities through community education events about preventing childhood lead poisoning and exercising tenants’ rights to mitigation or removal of lead hazards. This effort will give special attention to refugee families, who have been identified as being particularly at risk of serious lead poisoning due to factors such as nutritional deficiencies. (Indeed, one of the last children in America to die from lead poisoning was the child of a Somali refugee residing in Manchester.)