Kansas Legal Services to close Lawrence branch

State budget cuts are forcing Kansas Legal Services, which provides help to low-income Kansans, to close its branch office in Lawrence at the end of this year, officials said Friday.

“We will strive to minimize the impact felt on the community, but know that our diminished presence will mean a greater strain on the courts and the bar,” said Bethany Roberts, managing attorney.

“We are committed to trying to locate additional funding and hope to reopen the office at some point in the future,” she said.

In 2011, Kansas Legal Services assisted 1,673 clients in Douglas and Jefferson counties. The KLS office in Topeka will remain open and available to provide services to clients in Douglas and Jefferson counties, Roberts said.

Roberts said KLS lost contracts with the state to help move people from state assistance to federal assistance. Two of those contracts were worth a total of nearly $1 million, she said. Last year, KLS closed a field office in Garden City because of a lack of funding.

Lawrence attorney David J. Brown was disappointed to hear about the closing, and he commended the work the local branch has done over the years.

“The attorneys for Kansas Legal Services have been some of the most dedicated to helping people in need that I’ve seen. The cases they handle are messy and difficult because their clients’ needs are so great,” he said. “Loss of this service will have a negative impact on low-income families and children in our community.”