Members of Congress Join Legal Community for Briefing on COVID-19’s Impact on Civil Legal Needs

April 16, 2020

WASHINGTON – The Legal Serves Corporation will hold a virtual briefing on The COVID-19 Health Crisis, Civil Legal Needs, and State Courts on Monday, April 20, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. ET.  

The COVID-19 global pandemic seriously impacts low-income Americans’ legal needs. COVID-19 is expected to cause a significant spike in the need for legal services, with the current record unemployment filing rates leading to a deluge of evictions among clients that LSC-funded legal aid organizations serve. Legal services will be essential to low-income families unable to access healthcare and seniors who are victims of scams. Numerous jurisdictions are already reporting increases in domestic violence rates due to the stress and isolation associated with economic distress and COVID-19 prevention efforts, and LSC’s grantees play a critical role in helping clients obtain protective orders.

To compound these problems, many LSC grantees are facing significant funding cuts as they brace for a dramatic increase in the demand for their services. 

Court systems are also having to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak. Courts across the country are restricting access to prevent the spread of the virus while struggling to maintain essential court services. 

Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan, Representative Susan Brooks (IN-5) and Representative Joe Kennedy (MA-4) will provide remarks during the briefing. They will be joined by American Bar Association (ABA) President Judy Perry Martinez who will share updates on the ABA’s COVID-19 Task Force. LSC Board Chair John G. Levi will also offer remarks. 

Executive directors of civil legal aid organizations in Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, New York and Washington state will take part in a moderated conversation about The COVID-19 Health Crisis’ Effect on Legal Services Organizations and Their Clients. The panelists include Ashley Lowe, Chief Executive Officer, Lakeshore Legal Aid; Raun Rasmussen, Executive Director, Legal Services NYC; César Torres, Executive Director, Northwest Justice Project; Laura Tuggle, Executive Director, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation; and Monica Vigues-Pitan, Executive Director, Legal Services Miami. Lynn Jennings, LSC Vice President for Grants Management, will serve as moderator. 

LSC President Ron Flagg will moderate a panel on The COVID-19 Health Crisis’ Effect on State Courts and Access to Justice with four state supreme court chief justices: Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins, Supreme Court of Tennessee; Chief Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye, Supreme Court of California; Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, Supreme Court of Texas and President of the Conference of Chief Justices; and Chief Justice Bridget McCormack, Michigan Supreme Court. 

Lastly, Merck CEO Ken Frazier, who is co-chair of LSC’s Leaders Council, will deliver closing remarks.     

To join the briefing by phone dial 301-715-8592 and use meeting ID 927 8534 and password 574381. Most of the speakers will present by video as well. To view them, click the link and use meeting ID 927 8534 7835 and password Justice74. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter with #LSCCOVID. 

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.