Bogalusa resident a leader for Southeast La. Legal Services

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bogalusa resident Joel Miller approaches his work with Southeast Louisiana Legal Aid Services with a passion.

It’s his desire to help those less fortunate that drives him. He has served on the board of directors for the last 14 years.

Miller’s responsibilities increased Thursday night when he was appointed first vice president for a four-year term during the organization’s board meeting in New Orleans. He serves on the organization’s Personnel and Client Grievance committees.

The organization is a non-profit law firm that provides free legal assistance to low-income individuals in 22 parishes, including St. Tammany and Washington parishes, on a variety of legal issues. The organization hears complaints about any number of issues and attempts to put individuals in touch with those who can alleviate the problem.

Examples of major problems Southeast Louisiana Legal Services becomes involved with include questions of evictions, family problems and medical needs.

The 65-year-old Miller sits on the 18-person board that includes attorneys and judges.

“It’s quite an honor to be nominated and appointed first vice president,” Miller said. “I wasn’t expecting the appointment. It’s quite an honor to be able to serve on that board with all the distinguished judges and attorneys.”

Laura Tuggle, the organization’s executive director, said Miller is always eager to alleviate a need.

“You can always count on him to show up and speak up for what the client community needs,” Tuggle said. “He helps steer our non-profit in the right direction.”

Miller said being associated with Tuggle is a blessing.

“Working with Ms. Tuggle is a pleasure,” Miller said. “She keeps us informed of the activities of Legal Aid. “

Miller wears many hats in his work with the group.

“I hear personnel matters concerning legal aid and help distinguish how people can receive grants and where it goes,” Miller said. “We do wills, housing questions, child abuse cases and divorces. I take those complaints on to our offices in Hammond and Covington.”

Miller recommended individuals use the organization’s services.

“What I want to say to the people is that Legal Aid can do a lot for this parish,” Miller said. “The organization wants to help the people, and people need to call on them. We haven’t had that many requests from Washington Parish residents. I think it’s because of a lack of knowledge that we’re there and what we do. We’re there for them at little or no cost. Legal Services has the judges and resources to handle all cases. I urge anybody who hasn’t made out their will for a loved one to call Legal Services to assist.”

Miller is working with District A Councilwoman Gloria Kates to bring a Legal Aid office to Bogalusa in the near future.

Kates said such a project would be discussed at Thursday’s Neighborhood Association meeting at City Hall from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

“We always need positive resources in our town that will benefit all the parish,” Kates said.

Miller can be contacted at 985-516-8655 for any questions regarding Legal Aid services. Southeast Louisiana Legal Aid’s office in Hammond can be reached at 985-345-2130.

A simple phrase succinctly describes Miller’s attitude about his work.

“Everybody is somebody,” Miller said.