We believe that there should be fairness, justice and equality for all, and, that if we can instill more fairness in our society, there will be less poverty.
Our mission is to ensure that state and federal laws affecting poor people are upheld, while also addressing the systemic barriers to justice faced by Mainers with low incomes.
To achieve our mission, we provide free civil legal assistance in cases where it can make a difference in one’s ability to meet one’s basic human needs or in enforcing one’s basic human rights, including access to housing, food, income, safety, education, and healthcare.
Pine Tree Legal Assistance is committed to making the justice system more accessible for all Mainers, regardless of income, using three effective strategies:
- Legal Advocacy – We provide direct legal advocacy to Mainers with low incomes who need help resolving serious civil legal issues. Our advocacy ranges from legal advice and brief assistance to negotiations and full legal representation. Our staff and volunteers work on more than 7,000 cases a year.
- Information about Your Rights– There is an old adage that knowledge is power. We want to empower all Mainers to advocate for themselves by providing them with information about their civil legal rights and responsibilities. We offer a comprehensive library of self-help tools, legal information, and resources which are available to everyone online at no charge. These resources are viewed and downloaded more than 2 million times each year.
- Community legal education– Pine Tree staff are valued trainers for client groups, social service providers, members of the private bar, court personnel, landlords, and others. Pine Tree reaches approximately 3,600 people annually through community legal education activities.
We continually assess the most pressing civil legal problems facing low-income Mainers. Our board of directors regularly reviews our program priorities. Our current priorities are:
- The preservation of housing and related housing needs;
- Maintaining, enhancing and protecting income and economic stability;
- Promoting safety, health, and well-being;
- Improving outcomes for Maine children and youth;
- Enforcing workplace opportunities, income and legal protections for low-wage workers;
- Meeting the legal needs of populations with other vulnerabilities; and
- Improving the delivery of legal services and justice for low - income Mainers statewide.
Because our resources are limited, we generally restrict direct legal aid to individuals and families whose household’s annual adjusted gross income is at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. View our Financial Eligibility Guidelines.
Our Organization and Funding
Pine Tree Legal Assistance is a nonprofit organization, recognized as a 501(c)(3) by the IRS and as a public charity in the State of Maine. Pine Tree receives funding from the Legal Services Corporation (federal appropriation), the State of Maine (including a general Appropriation, allocations from the Maine Civil Legal Services Fund, and State contracts), the Maine Justice Foundation (including IOLTA), the Campaign for Justice, United Ways, other federal grants, and generous support from foundations, corporations, and individual donors. To learn more about our organization, visit the Transparency and Accountability section of our donor page.