About Us

Our Vision

Justice for Those in Need

Our Mission

To Provide Excellence in Legal Advocacy for Those in Need

Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc. (MALS) is the primary provider of civil legal representation to low income families in the western Tennessee counties of Shelby, Fayette, Tipton and Lauderdale.  MALS helps individuals and families facing critical, sometimes life-threatening, situations such as:

  • Domestic violence
  • Mortgage foreclosure, eviction or homelessness
  • Wrongful denial of health care, food stamps, unemployment compensation and other assistance
  • Consumer fraud or predatory lending
  • Special challenges of children and the elderly

MALS does not accept fees for it services and does not handle criminal cases, class action lawsuits or fee generating cases such as personal injury or worker’s compensation, among others.

Our History

The Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc. story began in 1968, in the wake of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was the commitment and resolve of thirty (30) members of the legal profession that led to the eventual opening of our doors.  These lawyers and law students, led by W. J. Michael “Mike” Cody, initially faced staunch opposition but persevered until their dreams were realized on June 15, 1968, when the Neighborhood Legal Services Project (NLSP), opened in the old Centenary Methodist Church located at 878 Mississippi Boulevard. Undeterred by the twice denial of funding by the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) of the Johnson Administration, they pooled their own funds to support and organize the project and volunteered time after work. It was staffed with a law student and a secretary. Two years later the OEO-funded Memphis and Shelby County Legal Services (MSCLS) due in no small part to the same unsung heroes who helped to establish the NLSP. The initial years were under the capable leadership of two Memphis institutions, Honorable George H. Brown (retired Circuit Court Judge), and A C Wharton, Jr. (Mayor of the City of Memphis and former Shelby County Mayor), both having served as Executive Directors of MSCLS.

Following the 1974 Congressional enactment of the Legal Services Corporation Act, which established the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in Washington, D.C., additional funding for legal aid was provided. The late 70′s and early 80′s were called the “expansion years” during which legal aid organizations expanded their services to all counties, territories, and the District of Columbia. Consequently, Memphis and Shelby County Legal Services’ name was changed to Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc. (MALS) to better reflect the expansion of services to three additional counties of Fayette, Lauderdale and Tipton.

MALS continues the tradition of its early years in providing high quality and aggressive advocacy. Today, we are a multi-faceted law firm guided by values and principles that embody our commitment to equal access to justice. Through well-trained, dedicated and capable staff, complemented by the volunteerism of the private bar, MALS provides free legal assistance through advice and counsel, court and administrative representation, and community education and outreach to the vulnerable residents in Shelby, Fayette, Tipton and Lauderdale counties.