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Atlanta Legal Aid Society

The Atlanta Legal Aid Society has represented Atlanta's poor in civil legal cases since 1924. Our work helps our clients deal with some of life's most basic needs -- a safe home, enough food to eat, a decent education, protection against fraud, and personal safety.  Our clients come from Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett Counties in Georgia.



151 Spring Street NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
(404) 524-5811
(770) 528-2565

(404) 377-0701

(678) 376-4545
South Fulton/Clayton

(404) 669-0233

Senior Citizen
(404) 657-9915
Toll free 1(888)257-9519
Media Contact:
(404) 614-3922

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Olmstead at 15

Advocates and people with disabilities celebrated the 15th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision at the Carter Center in Atlanta.  "Long Road Home," an annual celebration of the Olmstead decision led by and organized by self-advocates with disabilities, began in Georgia and has since gone national, with Long Road Home events in eight states.

The most memorable and inspiring parts of any Olmstead celebration are the personal stories of people who have returned to their communities after being liberated from confinement in nursing homes and institutions.  Throughout the event, people proclaimed, "I Am Olmstead," and told about traveling their own road home.

Speakers At Olmstead Celebration

Implementing Olmstead in Georgia has progressed significantly in the last few years, but not without serious problems.  An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found that 30 out of 40 deaths that have occurred in community group homes since 2010 were unexpected. The article also cited reports of abuse, neglect, and accidental injuries.

Eve Hill, United States Justice Department, Civil Rights Division, and Commissioner Frank Berry, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, spoke of the progress and the challenges in implementing Olmstead and addressed the issues presented in the AJC article.  Commissioner Frank Berry said that the article told  only half the story.  “What the article did not show is the hundreds of individuals who have successfully transferred into their own homes,” he said.

Hill agreed that she had personally witnessed many lives that benefited from the settlement.  Restating the DOJ's commitment, she said,  “. . .  as we’ve discussed with the state many times, and I think Commissioner Berry agrees, moving people from warehousing them in large state hospitals to isolating them in poor, isolated or abusive group homes is not acceptable.”   She went on to say, “These issues are not a reason to stop helping people live in their communities.”

Throughout the event, attendees enjoyed a self-advocate art exhibit, and Peter Grosz of Roustabout Media donated never-before-seen film clips from a documentary showing how the Olmstead case happened.

"We were thrilled with the enthusiasm and excitement everyone had to commemorate Olmstead," said Talley Wells, Atlanta Legal Aid's Disability Integration Project Director. "It shows the impact it is having.  Over two hundred people registered for the event, including Justice Department attorneys from Washington DC, the leadership of Georgia's Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Atlanta lawyers, and people with disabilities from across the state."

Lillian Caudle of the Host Committee, said, "The event was uplifting.  To be sure, there is so much more work to be done--and, thankfully, there are dedicated individuals and organizations devoted to finishing the task--but I was most touched by the joy in the room.  When you think about the journey so far and how so many barriers have been overcome after so many decades of unjust treatment, it was understandably a victorious celebration of life and freedom.  I am grateful for the opportunity to have been there."

See the new web site, OlmsteadRights.org

Thanks to Virginia Hawkins for our pictures.

Host Amanda Plumb interviewed Talley Wells (ALAS Manager of the Disability Integration Project) and Harold Anderson (ALAS Board Member and Executive Committee Member) earlier this year for North Avenue Lounge on WREK.

Art Show at Olmstead 15th Anniversary

More News and Stories

Brianne Erwin Honored

Independence Day: A Key

Debt and the Elderly Client

Memorable HeLP Cases

2nd Annual Beer Tasting and BBQ Battle

Upcoming Events

Coming Up

Justice Jam

2014 Run For Justice

Last year, we had our biggest Run ever!

HeLP Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Ten years ago, Atlanta Legal Aid, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Georgia State University College of Law joined together to provide legal help for low-income families of children hospitalized at Children's hospitals. The Health Law Partnership (HeLP) is one of the first of its kind in the country, and the first in the Southeast.

A former nurse, HeLP Director Sylvia Caley said that she got the idea for the organization while working for Atlanta Legal Aid. "We saw a lot of people with medical problems," she said. "I kept thinking if we had a Legal Aid office closer to the hospital, people wouldn't get lost in translation."

HeLP Gets Started
Steve Gottlieb, Charity Scott, Dale Hetzler

Caley brought the idea to Steve Gottlieb, Atlanta Legal Aid's Executive Director, and Charity Scott, Director of GSU's College of Law Center for Law, Health and Society. They presented the idea to Dale Hetzler, then General Counsel at Children's, who immediately said, "This sounds like something we want to do for our patients."

"In introducing the program, we asked the question, 'What should we do when a young patient with asthma must make repeat visits to the Emergency department, not because he doesn't have his medication or his asthma action plan, but because the apartment he lives in has mold that the landlord refuses to remediate?' That is a real example of how we can help, something everyone can easily see," said Steve Gottlieb.

Of course, there are many other ways lawyers can help. Cases from the first few weeks of operation include:

  • Medicaid denials of coverage;
  • Section 8 eviction for nonpayment of utilities, for a child who has stage IV neuroblastoma;
  • apartment conditions issues, including flooding, sewage back up, flea infestation, for a child who has End Stage Renal Disease;
  • an employment lay-off, which a mother believes was a ruse due to the costs of insuring her sick child;
  • several Family Medical Leave Act questions;
  • a homeless mother's flight from domestic violence, resulting in her juvenile diabetic daughter's being hospitalized due to non-treatment;
  • special education needs for a newly-diagnosed juvenile diabetics (Type 1) with a non-cooperative school;
  • loss of SSI and Medicaid for a child after her liver transplant; and
  • consent for care and guardianship issues.

In the last ten years, HeLP has handled more than 6,000 legal issues for children and their families. Most cases involve family law, special education, housing (especially housing conditions, which make people sick), Medicaid and SSI. 

A National Award

HeLP was honored by the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership (NCMLP) with the 2014 Outstanding Medical-Legal Partnership Award. The award is given annually to recognize programs that have made legal care part of the delivery of healthcare for vulnerable people and that have demonstrated significant impact on patient care and healthcare clinic practice.

Megan Sandel, Medical Director at the NCMLP said, "We were very impressed with your long 10 year track record of excellence as a Medical-Legal Partnership, particularly in building the evidence base for medical-legal partnership as an important part of healthcare!"

Celebrating at Wimbish House

The Center for Law, Health and Society at Georgia State University College of Law celebrated its 10th anniversary along with HeLP at the beautiful and historic Wimbish House.

Read more about the 10th Anniversary Celebration.

Many more pictures here.

Wimbish House, Sylvia Caley Standing

See "A Tribute To Atlanta Legal Aid" on Atlanta Legal Aid: The Movie

Partially Funded By:

United Way

Atlanta AIDS Fund
The Community Foundation For Greater Atlanta