for those in need

Our mission is to Provide Excellence in Legal Advocacy for Those in need.

Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc.
Over 50 years of serving Memphis and the Midsouth

It’s Our 53rd Birthday, but Instead, of celebrating with a party, MALS is celebrating by serving our COVID-19 impacted community.

We provide free legal advice and representation for low-income, disabled, and elderly clients in legal crises that threaten self-sufficiency or quality of life. We serve people in Fayette, Lauderdale, Shelby and Tipton counties.

Press Release:


Loyce Lambert Ryan, Judge (retired)


Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc. is pleased to announce that Loyce Lambert Ryan, Judge (retired), has joined MALS as Interim Executive Director.  From 2000 to 2022, Judge Lambert Ryan presided over Shelby County General Sessions Criminal Court Division XV.  Before becoming a judge, Judge Lambert Ryan was known as a skilled trial attorney in the legal community. She distinguished herself as the first woman selected as a member of the Shelby County Public Defenders Capital Defense Team and the first woman supervisor of the unit. Judge Lambert Ryan was the first woman president of the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association and received its highest award, the A. A. Latting Award for Outstanding Legal Services in 1995. Judge Lambert Ryan is a 1980 graduate of Clark Atlanta University and a 1983 Juris Doctorate recipient from the University of Iowa College of Law. She served as a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellow through Legal Services Corporation of America in 1983-85.  Lambert Ryan was appointed in 2004 by the Governor of Tennessee. to the Governor’s Task Force on Sentencing Guidelines.  She was also appointed in 2015 by the Tennessee Supreme Court to serve on the Indigent Defense Task Force.

Judge Ryan is taking over the leadership of MALS following the departure of Cindy Ettingoff.  Ms. Ettingoff was instrumental in the progress and success of MALS over the past several years.  Her passion for MALS’ mission and those it serves, as well as her perseverance in the face of multiple and several unprecedented challenges was greatly appreciated by the MALS Board of Directors and staff, and will be missed by the team and by those outside of MALS who worked with her during her leadership at MALS. We wish Ms. Ettingoff great success in her next endeavor.

Gortria C. Banks

Memphis Area Services, Inc. has appointed Gortria C. Banks as Chief Operating Officer.  Ms. Banks joined MALS in August of 2023 after serving as the Associate Executive Director at Community Legal Center. Ms. Banks holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, and a Master in Business Management, HRM. Ms. Banks also holds the professional certifications of Certified Public Administrator and Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional. She is a University of Memphis alum, a retiree of Shelby County Government (SCG) with 31 years of dedicated service, and a Leadership Memphis graduate.  Ms. Banks has a rich background in both finance and human resources and was nominated as a finalist for Memphis Business Journal’s 2019 CFO of the Year for her work done as the Finance Director in General Sessions Court.  In addition, she serves as a board member for Shelby County Government’s pension board and as a budget committee member.

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