On Thursday, October 11, 2012, the Legal Services of Southern Missouri building will be dedicated as the “Sam F. Hamra Center for Justice.” The dedication ceremony will take place at 4:00 p.m. with a reception to follow from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. at 809 North Campbell Avenue, Springfield, MO 65802.
This building will be named in honor of Sam F. Hamra, who was instrumental in forming the Legal Aid Association of Greene County, now known as Legal Services of Southern Missouri (LSSM), and served as its first Chairman of the Board in 1976.
Sam F. Hamra was born on January 21, 1932, in Steele, Pemiscot County, Missouri, the son of Vicki and Sam F. Hamra, Sr. He had one older brother, Jerry, and two younger sisters, Joan and Marilyn. He and his wife, June, were married on April 1, 1956, and had four children, Sam III, Karen, Michael, and Jacqueline.
He graduated from the University of Missouri Business School, and afterwards served in the U.S. Army for two years. After he graduated from the University of Missouri Law School, Sam and June moved to Springfield where Sam began practicing law in 1959.
He built a very successful law practice and business organization over the next 50 years, never forgetting his modest roots, nor the rights of those less fortunate.
His lifetime service, helping others in need, and his concern that low income citizens’ legal needs would otherwise remain unmet, led to his desire and dedication for the formation of LSSM. This made a difference in the lives of thousands of people in 43 counties in Southern Missouri who could not otherwise have legal representation.
Dedication speakers will be Senator Roy Blunt, Attorney General Chris Koster, University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton, and Michael K. Hamra, Esq., President/CEO of Hamra Enterprises. Master of Ceremonies will be attorney Dee Wampler.
Congratulatory letters will be read from former Missouri Attorney General and U.S. Senator, John Danforth and former U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Senator, John Ashcroft.
In 1976, joining Sam as Officers and Board members were Jeffrey H. Harrison, Vice President; The Honorable Richard E. Dorr, Secretary; and Verne C. White, Treasurer. Other Board members were Jean Heyle, Bill Karchmer, Dennis O’Dell, Earl Scheid, Pat Walker, and Ex Officio Member Meredith B. Turner.
In 1977, the organization joined the National Legal Aid Association and hired its first Executive Director. That year the Board also authorized a contract with the City of Springfield Municipal Court to represent those who are unable to pay an attorney. Community Development funds were also secured to provide services to the poor.
In 1978 the Greene County Bar Association and the Legal Aid Association of Greene County began sharing offices in the Woodruff Building.
On September 25, 1979, the organization adopted its new name of Legal Aid of Southwest Missouri since the organization was then providing services in seven counties.
In 1980, Gregg L. Hartley was named Executive Director. Mr. Hartley served as Executive Director until 1983.
In 1986, Legal Aid of Southwest Missouri obtained a grant from the American Bar Association to develop a volunteer lawyer’s project. Both Drury and SMSU utilized LSSM as a clinical study program for its paralegal studies. The LSC funding was $617,000.
In 2001, Legal Aid of Southwest Missouri merged with Meramec Legal Services and Southeast Missouri Legal Services, Inc. and began operating under the name of Legal Services of Southern Missouri. LSSM’s service area was expanded to 43 counties in Southern Missouri.
LSSM’s main office is located in Springfield, Missouri. Its primary function is to provide the overall management and administration of the program. There are also two branch offices in Charleston and Rolla. Each of the offices has a staff to screen applications for assistance and to provide legal services to those in need in their portion of the service area.
In 2010, the LSSM Board of Directors voted to build its own building in Springfield, MO. The building was completed and LSSM moved into its beautiful new facilities located at 809 North Campbell on November 22, 2010.
In 2011, LSSM celebrated its 35th year of providing quality legal services to low-income families and individuals. The organization’s budget has grown to $4.1 million annually.
The current Board consists of 22 members from Southern Missouri. President of the Board is William C. Morgan. Douglas B. Kays serves as Executive Director. Sharon Alexander, Springfield, is the Director of Development. The Honorable John Holstein serves as Chairman of the Justice For All Campaign Cabinet.
LSSM provides free legal assistance to people living at or below poverty level. LSSM receives over 11,000 applications each year and with current resources is able to assist 2,500 clients. The service area includes the counties of: Barry, Bollinger, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carter, Cedar, Christian, Crawford, Dade, Dallas, Dent, Douglas, Dunklin, Gasconade, Greene, Howell, Iron, Laclede, Lawrence, Madison, Maries, Mississippi, New Madrid, Oregon, Ozark, Pemiscot, Perry, Phelps, Polk, Pulaski, Reynolds, Ripley, St. Francois, St. Genevieve, Scott, Shannon, Stoddard, Stone, Taney, Texas, Wayne, Webster and Wright. Legal Services of Southern Missouri has offices located in Springfield, West Plains, Rolla, Charleston, and Cape Girardeau.