The Center for Civil Justice (CCJ), is dedicated to improving the lives of low-income families by providing legal, advocacy, and educational services on behalf of our clients by focusing on issues that impact a large group of people or systemic issues.
Our core legal services funding allows us to represent people whose family income falls at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines (FPL). Many of our clients come from our 14-county mid-Michigan service area: Arenac, Bay, Clare, Genesee, Gladwin, Gratiot, Huron, Isabella, Lapeer, Midland, Saginaw, St. Clair, Sanilac, and Tuscola counties.
We also focus on special low-income populations who have unique issues that CCJ may have the expertise to solve.
CCJ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that advocates for and with low-income people and their allies. CCJ advocates in partnership with many community organizations and coalitions. Our clients and our partners help us identify issues and problems affecting low-income people. We also work with these partners to develop strategies and solutions to the problems. Our strategies include outreach, community education, self-help tools, litigation and policy advocacy. CCJ has founded or co-founded several coalitions at the local, regional, and state level, and provides substantive information and staffing to these coalitions.
CCJ also monitors proposed and final policy changes in state and federal governmental programs and services for low-income people. We tell community organizations and advocates about the changes. We identify problems and opportunities in proposed policies. We provide analysis and recommendations to agency officials and legislators.
The Center for Civil Justice was originally established as the Genesee County Legal Aid Society in 1951. The Board of Directors changed the organization’s business name and expanded the service area in 1996. During that year, Congress prohibited federally funded legal services from continuing to offer certain advocacy services, such as class-action litigation and legislative advocacy. CCJ helps ensure that low-income peopel in the region have access to these important services.
CCJ began with one office and a staff of three. Today it has two offices, three attorneys, four experienced advocates, and administrative support. CCJ also contracts with a multi-client lobbyist, Capitol Services, Inc., to assist with its state policy advocacy efforts.
CCJ's work focuses on identifying and addressing systemic legal and policy barriers to the programs, services, and opportunities that are intended to help low-income people enjoy safe, healthy, and economically secure lives. We work not only with low-income individuals, but also with local organizations that provide direct services to low-income people, and advocacy organizations at the state and national level.
One of CCJ's funders, the Michigan State Bar Foundation, reports on some of CCJ’s activities as part of its annual Justice for All Report. The reports can be found at www.msbf.org/atj/index.html.