The Legal Aid Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit legal aid provider based in New York City. Founded in 1876, it is the oldest and largest provider of legal aid in the United States. Its attorneys provide representation on criminal and civil matters in both individual cases and class action lawsuits. The organization is funded through a combination of public grants and private donations. It is the largest recipient of funding among regional legal aid providers from the New York City government and is the city's primary legal services provider.
The Legal Aid Society was founded in 1876 in New York to defend the individual rights of German immigrants who could not afford to hire a lawyer. A large donation from the Rockefeller Family in 1890 enabled the organization to expand its services and include individuals from every background. It was renamed the New York Legal Aid Society in 1890. The society is governed by a board of directors. On December 2, 2010, Richard J. Davis was elected chairman of the board.