In NCLS’s inaugural annual report, we share our annual caseload, service hours, client feedback, year end financial report and our planned growth for next year. Click here to download a PDF version of our 2018 Annual Report.
Since the start of New Covenant Legal Services (NCLS) in 2013 there has been substantial growth in our ability to take on new cases. NCLS more than tripled our caseload when we added a full-time legal assistant in June of 2018. These cases included landlord/tenant disputes, payday loan settlements, and an automobile accident insurance dispute. Our volunteer attorneys provided 343 hours of free legal consultations and help to our clients. We also have active volunteers and interns in non-legal roles who met with clients, took them to appointments, and conducted research for various cases. Part of our goal in 2019 is to update our tracking of volunteer/intern hours so we have a more accurate count of hours served.
With the help of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, NCLS has started a very successful City Court Project in Divisions 27 and 28 which reaches out to City residents who are dealing with landlord/tenant, payday loans, and small claims issues. With the permission of the Presiding Judge of the St. Louis City Circuit Court, we have been able to set up a table between those two divisions and offer free legal counsel to individuals facing legal trouble. This has greatly increased our client base.
Looking forward, NCLS expects to continue its dramatic growth in 2019.
Service Hour Summary and Comparison
As our client base has grown we have also seen an increase in hours served by our staff and volunteers. Part of that is due to the hiring of a full time legal assistant and part is due to the increase in clientele we have seen coming from the Courthouse. The growth is quite evident when comparing 2017 and 2018 data.
NCLS Service Hours
|2018 Service Hours||2017 Service Hours|
|Legal Assistant Hours||1,135||700*|
|Volunteer Attorney Hours||343||225|
We expect to see continued growth in clientele, staff, and volunteers in the next several years.
New Covenant Legal Services 2018 Case-Load Summary
NCLS has a model that is different from many other faith-based legal entities. Because NCLS is equipped to handle large-scale litigation, we work with a smaller case volume than many similar legal service ministries. We divide our work into two distinct categories:
1. Litigation matters: These are cases where NCLS opens a file and normally enters an appearance as attorney of record for an individual who either has been sued or requires a lawsuit to protect their rights.
2. Consults: Consults are when individuals come to NCLS looking for representation and are either referred to another attorney, given direction by our attorneys (but not taken on as clients), or are told that we are unable to take their type of case. Many of our consults happen directly in the St. Louis City Courthouse during our Court Project mornings.
Types of Cases Handled
While NCLS handles a wide variety of matters we do not take all cases we are presented with. Currently we handle:
- Consumer Fraud
- Landlord/Tenant Issues
- Debt Collection Cases
- Sexual Exploitation
- Minor Criminal Cases
- Racial and Religious Discrimination
- Driver’s License Revocation
NCLS has been working on a handful of large landlord/tenant cases, which have been developing rapidly and will continue into 2019. We are also continuing to work diligently on the prison sentence commutation case for the young man with the 45-year prison sentence for a non-violent offense. This has included reaching out to administrative heads of the Department of Corrections, Senators, and other leaders to move the process along.
2018 NCLS Litigation Caseload Summary
|Payday Loan/Debt Collection||5|
|Civil Rights/Prisoner’s Rights||4|
This year has brought tremendous growth. One growth area in particular is our consults. The accompanying chart shows our increase in consults from 2017 to 2018.
Consults include office visits, phone conferences, and attorney consults with individuals in the St. Louis City Courthouse. This number is conservative as we have been a part of legal clinics and are actively working in the City Court House. We are working diligently to record all consultations, hours worked by volunteers/interns, and all hours worked by volunteer attorneys.
“They personally made me feel like they cared – walked with me.”Client Survey
Most of our cases come to us through church referrals, word of mouth, and referrals from other not-for-profit legal entities in the area who are overwhelmed with the number of people seeking help. We have also received many referrals from the Judges and court personnel causing our clientele to grow exponentially.
“Good support and guidance…”Client Survey
One of our main sources of feedback from our clients is through our client survey. Our goal for 2018 was 60% client reported overall satisfaction, and we actually received 95% client satisfaction when we completed the surveys. We have prepared a brief seven question survey that covers whether the client felt empowered, how they felt about our service, and whether they feel they gained skills that will help them avoid future decisions that will result in another similar lawsuit. Many of our clients commented on the high level of service they received as well as the care and patience our attorneys showed their cases.
Financial Report 2018
|Attorneys’ Fees Paid by Settling Defendants||$15,000|
|Special Events Income||$175|
|General Office Expenses||$6,983.51|
|2019 Carry Over|
We anticipate growth as we look into 2019. NCLS has decided to expand our office space and will be taking over the suite adjacent to our current office. This will give us more conference room and office space for our interns, law clerks, volunteers, and attorneys to work and will help us maintain confidentiality for our clients. We will also need to make upgrades to our phone and computer systems to accommodate the larger space. We plan to expand into the new space by April 2019, although this projection may change.
Our continuing increase in workload creates a need for more help and resources. There are some cases we had to turn away this year because we were over capacity. To service this need we hope to hire an additional attorney and legal assistant within the next year. We will continue to strive to provide excellence and hope for the St. Louis community.
*Not including additional staff salaries.NCLS-Year-End-Report-2018-FINAL