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LSSM Executive Director Retires after 35 Years

Monday November 30, 2015

Legal Services of Southern Missouri announces that its executive director, Douglas B. Kays, has decided to retire on November 30, 2015, after 35 years of dedicated service. The Board expressed its tremendous gratitude to Mr. Kays for his years of service, vision, and leadership. The Board of Directors plans to announce an Interim Executive Director by the end of November.

Over the past 35 years, Mr. Kays has worked to expand services to clients.  During Mr. Kay’s tenure, the organization has ensured equal access to justice in over 126,369 civil cases representing the poor, the elderly and the abused.  Mr. Kays worked diligently to increase services for the poor.  When Mr. Kays became executive director the LSSM budget was $566,266 which has grown to $4.1 million in 2015.

According to Board President Craig Heidemann, “Doug’s leadership and vision have been an instrumental component to our success as an organization.  With Doug’s tireless efforts, LSSM has become a national model for technology and efficiency in the delivery of legal services.”

Under Mr. Kays leadership, the organization created the Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) in 1986.  Since its inception, the private bar has accepted 3,049 cases helping low-income people in Southern Missouri.  Without this assistance, these income eligible Missourians most likely would not have been helped with their legal matters. 

One of Mr. Kay's greatest accomplishments was the 2001 merger between the three Southern Missouri Legal Services providers:  Legal Aid of Southwest Missouri, Southeast Missouri Legal Services, and Meramec Area Legal Aid Corporation.  The merger expanded the service delivery area to 43 counties across southern Missouri.  During the merger, Legal Services of Sothern Missouri was born. Under Mr. Kays leadership three organizations, three separate boards, and over 40 staff members united together to form the new entity delivering quality legal services to the majority of the southern half of the state. 

Today, the organization has six offices throughout its service area--Springfield (2), West Plains, Rolla, Charleston and Cape Girardeau.