Florida Rural Legal Services, Inc. was founded in 1966 as a private, non-profit corporation. FRLS provides free civil legal assistance to indigent families and low income elderly people in thirteen South Central Florida counties. FRLS also provides legal assistance to migrant workers throughout the state of Florida.
FRLS is unique in its service of farmworkers because of its rich history. The office of Economic Opportunity – the agency created by R. Sargent Shriver during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration to spearhead the War on Poverty – funded a 2 year demonstration and research project to provide legal services to farmworkers in six South Florida counties. The project was originally called the South Florida Migrant Services.
The program was extremely successful, and to this day, now as FRLS, continues to be the only legal services organization in Florida providing services to farmworkers and migrant workers throughout the state.
Today, FRLS has 7 offices and 70 staff members, including 31 attorneys. FRLS helps clients with the following types of legal problems: Consumer, Employment, Public Benefits and Economic Stability, Housing, Elder, and Farm Worker Law. We also provide services in Civil Rights and Family Law. Each year FRLS handles thousands of cases and continues to evolve in the quality and scope of services provided.
The Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), President Johnson’s agency which spearheaded the “War on Poverty,” funded a two year demonstration and research project to provide legal services to farmworkers in six south Florida counties. The new program, called South Florida Migrant Legal Services (SFMLS).
The creation of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) FRLS became an LSC grantee.
FRLS expands its services to Central Florida.
On December 4th, the Board of Directors voted to approve the acquisition of the first real estate ever owned by FRLS. They unanimously agreed to the purchase of a commercial building in Lakeland to be used as a new center for client services in the Tenth Judicial Circuit.
FRLS currently serves 13 counties and Farmworkers throughout the state of Florida. With 8 locations in the state, FRLS closed 6,349 cases in 2016.