OXFORD — North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, which provides legal help for low-income families, will remain in Oxford but will close an office in Tupelo.
The NMRLS board of directors this past week voted to close the Tupelo office due to a lack of funding.
“We were considering closing the Oxford office and combining it with Tupelo. However, we decided to stay in Oxford,” Marion Dunn Tutor, spokeswoman for NMRLS, told the Oxford Eagle.
“It was the last thing they wanted to do. But after looking at everything and how much it costs to move an office, they made the decision to close Tupelo.”
Legal Services has five offices covering 39 counties. The Tupelo office served 10 counties. The Oxford office will be restructured to cover the area and hopes are the move will be smooth and there will be as little as possible cuts in services.
“Moving to a four-office configuration will hamper service delivery, but we are working on how best to serve our clients. The overall effect this will have on legal aid services is not yet known, but it is going to directly impact clients in the Tupelo area,” said Ben Cole, NMRLS executive director.
Legal Services programs help low-income people with civil law matters, such as housing, income issues, domestic violence and consumer protection.
It receives most of its funding from the national Legal Services Corporation. Additional funding comes from court-filing fees and revenue from interest on lawyers’ trust accounts.
“Mississippi lawyers have been generous in supporting legal aid by contributing funds each year and by donating their time through legal aid’s pro-bono efforts.
“But, we need other sources of funding to help with the tremendous and growing unmet legal needs of the poor,” Cole said.