Talk Justice, an LSC Podcast, Episode 3: Reps. Susan Brooks and Joe Kennedy Explore the Value of Civil Legal Aid
Rep. Susan Brooks (IN-5) and Rep. Joe Kennedy (MA-4) joined Legal Services Corporation (LSC) President Ronald S. Flagg on the latest episode of “Talk Justice, an LSC Podcast”.
Reps. Brooks and Kennedy are co-founders of the bipartisan Congressional Access to Civil Legal Services Caucus and longtime supporters of LSC. In this episode, they recount how they formed the caucus and the role it has played in advocating for federal funding of LSC. They also explore how the pandemic has sparked a surge in the demand for civil legal aid and how such assistance can address other problems such as racial injustice.
Rep. Kennedy describes how observing eviction court as a law student served as a wake-up call on the importance of legal representation. "To see the impact of having an advocate by your side who knows how to navigate the system versus going it alone and the enormous impact of that,” he says. “That's what drove me to say that there is a massive inequity that is taking place that most of the country doesn't know about.”
He and Rep. Brooks both note the lack of access to justice for too many Americans, particularly in the face of the additional challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. They describe the injustice of a system where millions of people are forced to navigate the court system alone.
Saying that “the justice gap is real,” Rep. Brooks expresses her concern that amid the pandemic “it is going to widen unless the legal community steps up. Unless we in Congress support LSC around the country.” She goes on to say that legal aid lawyers, paralegals and volunteers deserve support because “they’re holding the fabric of our country together in many ways.”
Talk Justice episodes are available at www.lsc.gov/media-center/talk-justice-lsc-podcast and on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple and other popular podcast apps. The podcast is sponsored by LSC’s Leaders Council.
Future episodes of Talk Justice will explore the challenges of delivering legal services in rural areas, legal aid’s importance to American business, the growing threat of evictions and how responses to the pandemic may permanently transform the courts and the practice of law.