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Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc.

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Overview

The Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc. story began in 1968, in the wake of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with the commitment and resolve of thirty (30) members of the legal profession led by W. J. Michael "Mike" Cody. Though these lawyers and law students initially faced staunch opposition they, nevertheless, persevered until their dreams were realized on June 15, 1968, when the Neighborhood Legal Services Project (NLSP), opened its doors in the old Centenary Methodist Church located at 878 Mississippi Boulevard. Undeterred by the denial of funding twice by the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO), they pooled their own funds to support and organize the project and volunteered their time after normal work hours with law student and secretary staffing the office. Two years later OEO funded Memphis and Shelby County Legal Services (MSCLS) due in no small part to the same unsung heroes who helped establish the NLSP. The initial years were under the capable leadership of two Memphis institutions, Honorable George H. Brown (retired Circuit Court Judge), and A C Wharton, Jr. (Memphis City Mayor and former Shelby County Mayor), who both served as Executive Directors of MSCLS.