LEGAL AID AND THE ACCESS TO JUSTICE MOVEMENT

LEGAL AID AND THE ACCESS TO JUSTICE MOVEMENT

Increasing federal and state funding for legal aid providers is needed to ensure that low-income individuals obtain access to civil legal services. The Legal Service Corporation funds legal aid offices throughout the country providing free legal services to individuals with incomes at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines in civil and domestic relations matters such as divorce, child custody, landlord-tenant, and public benefits cases.  

 

The Center for American Progress has recently issued a report, The Justice Gap: Civil Legal Assistance Today and Tomorrow, Center for American Progress, calling for greater federal, state, and local funding and private bar contributions to fund legal aid providers.

 

In Los Angeles, the California State legislature has provided funding for the creation of an Eviction Assistance Center, which provides free legal advice to low-income tenants facing eviction. Similar projects are emerging in New York and Massachusetts. Other projects in California, such as the Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance program, help those facing eviction by providing mediators rather than attorneys to resolve eviction cases. You can read more at A Push for Legal Aid in Civil Cases Finds Its Advocates.

 

Rule Change Could Ease "Justice Gap" for the Poor

In 2013, New York became the fourth state - including Colorado - to permit out-of-state lawyers to provide pro bono legal services to the indigent without having to pass the state’s bar exam.  Under the new “in-house pro bono” rule, an attorney admitted to practice and in good standing in another state may appear pro bono in New York. New York’s Chief Judge, Johnathan Lippman, who championed the measure, said that the rule would, “unleash. . . a tremendous talent pool,” and he estimated that this rule would create about 5,000 new pro bono volunteers in New York.  

 

 

RESOURCES

Legal Services Corp., Documenting the Justice Gap in America, (Sept. 2009). Available at http://www.lsc.gov/sites/default/files/LSC/pdfs/documenting_the_justice_gap_in_america_2009.pdf. (Last visited September 19, 2014).

 

Alan Houseman, The Justice Gap: Civil Legal Assistance Today and Tomorrow, Center for American Progress, (June, 2011). Available at http://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2011/06/pdf/justice.pdf. (Last visited September 19, 2014).

 

Erik Eckholm and Ian Lovett, “A Push for Legal Aid in Civil Cases Finds Its Advocates,” The New York Times, (Nov 21, 2014). Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/22/us/a-push-for-legal-aid-in-civil-cases-finds-its-advocates.html.

 

James C. McKinley Jr., Rule Change Could Ease ‘Justice Gap’ for the Poor, The New York Times, (Dec, 2013). Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/03/nyregion/rule-change-could-ease-justice-gap-for-the-poor.html. (Last visited December 2, 2013).