Open Hands Legal Services, formerly known as New York Christian Legal Services (NYCLS), was founded in 2001 and utilized volunteer attorneys to provide free legal services to residents of the Bowery Mission. After a few years of dormancy, the organization was revived by a group of Christian lawyers in 2009. In November 2009, NYCLS began providing services to guests of the soup kitchen at the Father’s Heart Ministries in Manhattan’s lower east side. NYCLS was renamed Open Hands Legal Services, Inc. in November 2010 to better communicate our mission to be open-handed toward our brothers and sisters and toward the poor and needy in our city (Deuteronomy 15:11).
From 2009 through 2011, Open Hands provided legal advice through the use of volunteer attorneys and law students. Open Hands hired its first part-time Executive Director in 2010. In 2011, the Board of Directors resolved to expand its services by providing more comprehensive legal assistance to our clients, and providing services at additional sites in the city. From 2009 to 2011, Open Hands trained more than 125 attorneys and law students and served over 300 clients. Our vision is to become a full-service Christian legal services organization, serving our neighbors and city through a unique and comprehensive operational model.