ArchCity Defenders

The ArchCity Defenders works to break the cycle of "revolving door justice" in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The ArchCity Defenders strives to provide holistic criminal and civil legal services to the homeless and working poor in the St. Louis Region.


The ArchCity Defenders are engaged in an exemplary, and often thankless job, of defending the voiceless and powerless in the criminal justice system. As a former public defender, I know how difficult the work can be and I salute those who continue the fight for justice and fairness in our legal system. It is the highest form of advocacy.

- Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.

The Jessie Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School

Whether they come to us personally, are referred to us by one of our community partners, or are identified by our team by the courts, our clients are the often-overlooked individuals in our overburdened criminal justice system.

Not eligible for the services of other organizations and still unable to afford private counsel, our clients represent the people who commonly fall through the cracks; the mentally ill and disabled, homeless veterans, recent immigrants, sufferers of substance abuse, abused and battered women, families facing eviction, and others. The ArchCity Defenders fills in this crucial legal services gap by providing free and holistic legal representation to individuals who would otherwise not have access.

While, in theory, everyone has the same legal rights, in practice the assistance of attorneys is required to ensure those rights are observed, protected, and administered impartially. Gaining an attorney's assistance is seldom a problem for people of adequate means, but civil rights are often compromised or disregarded altogether for those without funds and facing criminal investigation or prosecution or costly administrative sanctions. At the ArchCity Defenders, we aim to reverse this denial of basic civil rights by offering legal services to those who could not otherwise afford them.