Deanna’s marriage to her husband was full of ups and downs. Her husband was often abusive to her. But she loved him and was committed to making things work. After three years of marriage, they had a beautiful baby boy. Deanna was thrilled. She thought the love she and her husband each felt for their son would bring them closer together. Unfortunately, she was wrong. Things got worse. Her husband continued to abuse her physically and emotionally. When her son was four years old, Deanna’s husband pushed her against a wall in a fit of rage, screamed in her face, and threatened to kill her. She was terrified. She finally had had enough.

She wanted legal help, but because she was working a low-wage job and needed to support her son, she knew she could not afford to pay a lawyer. Deanna went to the St. Charles Parish Courthouse to find out what she could do to protect herself on her own. She was directed to the courthouse’s Access to Justice Center Self-Help Desk. There, an SLLS attorney helped her fill out the forms she needed to obtain a protective order to keep herself and her son safe.

Still, she was scared – of her husband, of the monumental step she was taking would mean for her and her son, and of the complicated legal process she was about the start. It all felt overwhelming and confusing.

Fortunately, the Self-Help Desk didn’t stop at pointing her to forms she needed to file. She was informed that SLLS might be able represent her for free. SLLS attorneys could help her obtain permanent safety for herself and her child that the protective order alone could not provide.

With the help of an SLLS attorney by her side to fight for her rights, Deanna obtained a divorce and joint custody of her son, with Deanna as the primary custodial parent. Her now ex-husband was ordered to complete a ba tterer’s intervention program. Now Deanna has the fresh start she needs to stabilize her life and protect her family.

After serving the Hammond community for over 30 years from its location on Derek Drive in Hammond, LA, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) is excited to announce its move to a new standalone facility. SLLS is the largest provider of free legal services for the poor in Louisiana and is part of the national Legal Services Corporation network, the largest funder of civil legal aid in the United States. Its Hammond office, which also serves as SLLS’s nonprofit corporate headquarters, provides free civil legal aid to low-income and vulnerable people in Hammond, LA and the surrounding parishes.

Starting November 11, 2019, SLLS will relocate its Hammond office to 200 Guidry Dr. Hammond, LA 70403 - off of S. Morrison Blvd, just south of W. Thomas St. The new facility will provide SLLS’ clients with more privacy and easy-to-access parking. The facility also provides greater office space to accommodate SLLS’s goal of increasing the number of civil legal attorneys working to meet the needs of low-income and vulnerable residents in this area. While there will be no major downtime during the move, the SLLS Hammond office will be closed to the public November 11, 2019 and November 12, 2019 to accommodate the relocation. Services will re-open at 200 Guidry Dr. on November 13, 2019 at 8:30am.

Every day, SLLS protects domestic violence survivors, empowers abused and neglected children by giving them a voice in the courtroom, preserves housing for hard-working families, works to end homelessness for veterans and people with disabilities, stands up for elderly consumers, removes barriers to needed medical care, improves vulnerable people’s access to employment and education, and much more.

“I am very excited about our upcoming move to our new location.” says Mark Surprenant, SLLS Board President. “Our Board of Directors greatly appreciates all that our wonderful staff does on a daily basis for our clients in the greater Hammond area. Therefore, we always try to ensure that our staff and clients have an easily accessible and comfortable environment to work in together. Our new office location should do just that.”

A formal welcome open house is planned for early 2020. Information about the free open house event will be posted on SLLS’s Facebook page:

The address for the SLLS Hammond office is now 200 Guidry Dr. in Hammond, LA 70403. All other contact information for the SLLS Hammond office and for other SLLS offices remain the same.

map to 200 Guidry Dr

SLLS Helps Prevent an Air Force Veteran from Becoming Homeless

Mark* is a proud Air Force veteran. After receiving an Honorable Discharge in the early 1980s, he worked as a mechanic for many years. After Hurricane Katrina, he gutted and rebuilt storm damaged homes to play his part in bringing New Orleans back. As he got older, he struggled with medical problems that made it harder and harder for him to do the heavy lifting this work required. But in 2016, Mark’s health took a tragic turn for the worse. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and heart failure. He just couldn’t do that kind of work any longer.

Mark wasn’t sure what to do and thought about applying for disability. Then, one day, while at a doctor’s appointment at the VA Medical Center in New Orleans, his social worker told him that he could get free legal help downstairs in the hospital. There, in a small office across from the cafeteria, SLLS’ Veterans Justice Project – funded with support from the New Orleans Bar Association and New Orleans Bar Foundation – helps low-income veterans resolve civil legal problems.

Mark decided it was worth a try. He had nowhere else to turn and was scared that he would lose his home if he didn’t find a solution soon. When Mark walked into our VA Hospital legal clinic, he was 60 years old, unable to work, and had no income.

Our attorney did a full civil legal needs screening for Mark. Based on the screening, we recommended Mark apply for VA service connected benefits. We also helped Mark apply for Social Security benefits. Advocating for and supporting Mark through every step of the process, we helped him get an expedited approval of his disability claim from the Social Security Administration. Mark is now receiving both VA and Social Security disability benefits, which together, pays him nearly $10,000/year. He no longer fears he will become homeless. He is reassured to know that SLLS is there for him, conveniently located at the VA Hospital, if he ever needs legal help again.

Mark served his country well and worked hard his whole life. We’re proud that we had the opportunity to serve him when he needed help.


* Names and other identifying information were changed to protect our client's identity.


Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) launches free online forms and information guides to help people clear life's legal hurdles.

 Live now -- online forms and guides for these issues:

  • Unpaid Wages Demand Letter
  • Petition for Judicial Review – Denial of Unemployment Benefits
  • Security Deposit Refunds – Moving Out and Demand Letters
  • Basic Divorce Forms (Simple Situations with No Minor Children)
  • Going live online shortly: court forms from the Consumer Debt Task Force of the Louisiana State Bar Association (forms only).

unpaid wages interview snapshot

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) is pleased to announce new free online legal forms hosted by LawHelp Interactive. The national civil legal aid community uses LawHelp Interactive to host automated forms to help people clear life's legal hurdles. SLLS paired these new automated forms with information guides designed for public libraries.

The New York Times applauded LawHelp Interactive in "Legal Aid with a Digital Twist." These resources extend help online anytime, anywhere, to anyone. SLLS won federal funding for the project through the competitive Technology Initiative Grant program of the Legal Services Corporation.

SLLS created automated forms and guides to help people create letters for security deposit refunds, demand letters for unpaid wages, petitions for court review of unemployment compensation claims, and simple divorce court packages for couples with no minor children or complicating factors. Find these new resources here.

The forms and related resources are packaged into "LibGuides," a librarian-friendly format. Anyone can find the LibGuides and related forms on, a free legal information and resource site administered by SLLS in partnership with Pro Bono Net.  Louisiana's site is part of the network, which has won a Webby.

SLLS developed the automated forms with two innovative software programs:  Access to Justice Author and HotDocs. Access to Justice Author creates an interactive interview to help users enter information for the online form.  HotDocs meshes the user's answers into the form. The LawHelp Interactive site processes the form and delivers it to the user, who can print it, save it, or receive it by e-mail.

Using technology to improve access to justice is gaining traction in the U.S. and abroad.  SLLS is on the cutting edge of Louisiana's technology-for-justice movement. With participation and input during a pilot project with the Orleans Parish Civil District Court, SLLS launched Louisiana's first automated uncontested divorce forms years ago. SLLS helped Louisiana become one of the first states to adopt a mobile format in English and in Spanish for, the free legal information site administered by SLLS.

About Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS)

SLLS ( is among Louisiana's largest providers of free civil legal aid. SLLS serves half of Louisiana's low-income people from six offices throughout 22 parishes across the southeast area of the state. In many parts of our service area SLLS is the only organization that can help. In 2018 SLLS aided more than 25,000 people, with a direct economic impact of $21 million.

About Pro Bono Net

Pro Bono Net is a nonprofit leader in developing innovative technology and forging collaborations to increase access to justice. Its programs, including, and, enable legal advocates to make a stronger impact, increase volunteer participation, and empower the public with resources and self-help tools to improve their lives. LawHelp Interactive makes implementing document assembly initiatives easier and less costly for legal aid organizations as well as pro bono and court-based access-to-justice programs. LawHelp Interactive is operated by Pro Bono Net in partnership with Ohio State Legal Services Association, with support from Legal Services Corporation's Technology Initiative Grants program, among other funders.

Image from

SLLS Protects Homes and Savings for Low-Income People

When Estelle* walked into our office, she was distraught.  At  66 years old, after working hard her entire life, she suddenly faced the possibility of losing her home and  her savings. Her health was deteriorating and since she received only $800 a month in retirement, she didn’t have enough money to get another apartment. She was scared she would end up sleeping on the streets. Most frustrating, Estelle knew she had done nothing wrong.

Estelle had worked for her previous employer for over 10 years. She did odd jobs on her boss’ properties and helped get them in shape for inspections. Her employer always paid her in cash and sometimes withheld some of her earnings to help her save for big expenses. This relationship worked well for both of them. About five years ago, her employer offered a new arrangement – the opportunity to lease-to-own one of his properties.  She was excited about the possibility of owning her own home and the stability it would provide. She looked forward to aging in place there.  Her boss said she could use $10,000 of the money he had “saved” for  her to put towards the down payment. Then the plan was for her boss to withhold  part of her pay to cover the monthly rent. Estelle was thrilled. She signed a 30-year lease with option to purchase her new home.

The arrangement was great for the first couple of years. Then Estelle’s bosses who co-owned the business employing Estelle started fighting with each other. There was disagreement on who owned the business and how to dissolve the business assets. Estelle wound up being fired and then served with an eviction notice accusing her of not paying the rent. On top of that, they denied they owed her any money for her past work. That’s when Estelle called SLLS.

Attorneys from SLLS’s Employment and Housing Units teamed up to help Estelle. Getting justice for Estelle took months and several court appearances. More than once, Estelle thought about giving up. She found the legal process confusing and frustrating. The stress of the situation was taking a toll on her health. Without SLLS, Estelle could not have afforded to have an attorney. With SLLS by her side, she continued to fight for what she knew  was right.  In the end, the court dismissed the eviction and Estelle got to keep her home. The court also found ordered the employers to pay  Estelle  $23,000 in unpaid wages. Now Estelle’s doesn’t have to worry about losing her home and her future is secure.


*Our client's name has been changed to protect her identity.