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The Legal Aid Society is the nation s oldest and largest provider of legal services to the indigent. Founded in 1876 to defend the individual rights of German immigrants who could not afford to hire a lawyer, the society provides a full range of civil legal services, as well as criminal defense work, and juvenile representation in Family Court, ensuring that poverty is not a barrier to accessing the justice system. Its core service is to provide free legal assistance to New Yorkers who live at or below the poverty level and cannot afford a lawyer when confronted with a legal problem. Through neighborhood and court-based offices in 18 facilities in the five boroughs of New York City, more than 800 lawyers working with approximately 600 paraprofessionals and other supporting staff, handle 300,000 cases annually. Legal Aid also conducts major class action litigation on behalf of thousands of welfare recipients, foster children, homeless families, elderly poor, inmates at Rikers Island and prisoners. Moreover, The Legal Aid Society has a significant record of groundbreaking victories in the highest courts in the nation.