Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request
Established by Congress in 1974, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) promotes equal access to justice by funding high-quality civil legal assistance for low-income Americans. LSC is the largest single funder of civil legal aid in the country.
LSC is a grant-making organization, distributing more than 93% of its federal appropriation to eligible nonprofits delivering civil legal aid. LSC awards grants through a competitive process and currently funds 134 independent legal aid organizations with more than 800 offices throughout the United States and its territories. LSC’s grantees serve thousands of low-income individuals, veterans, children, families, and seniors in every congressional district.
LSC grantees handle the basic civil legal needs of low-income people, addressing matters involving safety, subsistence, and family stability. Most legal aid practices are focused on family law, including domestic violence and child support and custody, and on housing matters, including evictions and foreclosures.
The United States Congress, in the declaration of purpose of the Legal Services Corporation Act, found that “there is a need to provide equal access to the system of justice in our Nation for individuals who seek redress of grievances,” that “there is a need to provide high quality legal assistance to those who would be otherwise unable to afford adequate legal counsel,” and that “providing legal assistance to those who face an economic barrier to adequate legal counsel will serve best the ends of justice and assist in improving opportunities for low-income persons.” In keeping with this mandate, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has established as our mission:
To promote equal access to justice in our nation and to provide high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income persons.
LSC is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors, each of whom is appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate to serve a three-year term. By law the Board is bipartisan; no more than six members may be of the same political party. The current Board includes leaders from across the country with a wealth of professional experience at major law firms, law schools, and civil legal aid providers; two Board members are client-eligible representatives. The Board is responsible for hiring the President of the Corporation; the President oversees LSC’s staff and is responsible for the final approval of all awards made to the Corporation’s grantees. LSC’s senior management has considerable experience in both the public and private sectors.
Recent Initiatives to Improve Performance and Accountability
LSC conducts robust oversight of its grantees. To ensure grantee compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements and sound financial management practices, LSC conducts regular on-site fiscal and programmatic compliance reviews and investigations. LSC also assesses the quality of legal services our grantees deliver and provides training and technical assistance.
LSC is committed to strong management of, and accountability for, federal funds. LSC has adopted rigorous oversight, enforcement, and training to promote grantees’ compliance with all requirements and restrictions that Congress has enacted.
In 2015, LSC took the following actions pursuant to our strategic plan to expand access to justice, improve performance, and enhance fiscal responsibility:
- Centralized all grantee data in a single online portal to facilitate LSC’s grants management and oversight.
- Created new joint regional teams to increase effective oversight by the Office of Program.
- Performance and the Office of Compliance and Enforcement.
- Awarded grants to 15 legal aid organizations in 13 states to support innovations in pro bono legal services for low-income clients.
- Awarded technology grants to 30 grantees in 25 states to support a variety of initiatives, including developing a website with special resources for seniors and domestic violence victims, creating a hotline for family and housing law advice through text messaging, and implementing a videoconferencing system for remote client interviews.
- Awarded a grant to American Samoa Legal Aid to establish a legal aid program for the first time since 2007. The grantee will prioritize family law and guardianship of minors.
- Sponsored briefings for congressional staff on veterans’ issues in the House and on the impact of pro se litigants on state courts in the Senate.
- Improved LSC policies and procedures, including new purchasing and contracting protocols; conducted mandatory training on conflicts of interest and whistleblower policies; and updated records management policy and retention schedules.
In addition, LSC leveraged the congressional investment in legal services with private support:
- Launched a Midwestern disaster preparedness project to help develop coordinated plans between disaster preparedness organizations and legal service providers in the region.
- Awarded leadership development grants to seven LSC grantees to help their leaders hone management and leadership skills.
- Developed a Rural Summer Legal Corps of more than 30 exceptional law students who want to serve LSC-funded civil legal aid providers in rural locations, to begin in the summer of 2016.
- Began planning a legal aid curriculum for public librarians, who are often the first people low-income Americans consult when seeking help in finding legal aid.
- Developed a toolkit and online guide to enable LSC grantees to track outcomes in cases handled for clients, so that grantees can improve client service and enhance their own management.
- Began a project to evaluate the accessibility and usability of statewide and territory-wide legal aid websites, which currently differ in terms of quantity and quality of information.
FY 2017 Budget Request
LSC requests an appropriation of $502,700,000 for FY 2017. This recommendation is $15.8 million more than last year’s request of $486.9 million. Most of the increase, $15.7 million, is for basic field grants, and $100,000 is for the Office of Inspector General (OIG).
The need for basic civil legal assistance for people who cannot afford to pay for it is overwhelming. The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 63 million people were financially qualified for LSC-funded legal services in 2014. LSC’s FY 2017 request represents the funding necessary to restore basic field funding per eligible person to the level of 2007, the last year before the recession began, in inflation-adjusted dollars—$467 million for FY 2017. While the unmet need for civil legal aid would justify a far larger request, LSC recognizes the budget pressures on the federal government. Congress appropriated $385 million to LSC for FY 2016, $10 million more than the previous year. Compared to its largest appropriation of $420 million in FY 2010, however, LSC’s funding has decreased by 8%, or $35 million.
The table below shows LSC’s appropriations for FY 2015 and 2016, and our recommendation for 2017.
|Budget Category||FY 2015 Appropriation||FY 2016 Appropriation||FY 2017 LSC Request|
|Basic Field Grants||$343,150,000||$352,000,000||$467,000,000|
|Technology Initiative Grants||$4,000,000||$4,000,000||$5,000,000|
|Pro Bono Innovation Fund||$2,500,000||$4,000,000||$5,000,000|
|Loan Repayment Assistance Program||$1,000,000||$1,000,000||$1,000,000|
|Management and Grants Oversight||$18,500,000||$19,000,000||$19,500,000|
|Office of Inspector General||$4,350,000||$5,000,000||$5,200,000|
Basic field grants, which support the provision of basic legal services, are the largest component of LSC’s budget. Consistent with prior years, LSC recommends that more than 90% of the budget be allocated to basic field grants for FY 2017. Less than four percent of LSC’s budget, $19.5 million, is allocated to grants management, compliance, and oversight, and 1%, $5.2 million, is for LSC’s Inspector General. The FY 2017 request includes $5 million for the Pro Bono Innovation Fund—the grant program to encourage innovations in pro bono legal services recommended by LSC’s Pro Bono Task Force, and $5 million is for LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants, which promote the expanded use of technology to deliver legal services efficiently and effectively, and to provide self-help resources to unrepresented persons.
The Cost of Returning Funding to Pre-Recession Levels
LSC’s FY 2017 budget recommendation reflects the funding necessary to return to the level of service that LSC grantees provided in 2007—the last year before the recession began and the size of the population eligible for LSC-funded services began to increase dramatically.
The table below shows LSC funding per eligible person from 2007 to 2016, adjusted for inflation.1
Basic Field Funding
|Eligible Persons||$/Eligible Person|
In 2007, basic field funding of $383 million was $7.54 per eligible person in inflation-adjusted dollars. Basic field funding per eligible person in 2016 is only $5.85 in constant dollars. To return to FY 2007 funding per eligible person in inflation adjusted dollars, basic field funding should be $467 million.
Impact of Census Adjustment on Grantee 2016 Funding
LSC distributes basic field funding to all 134 grantees based on poverty population data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. Basic field funding for a particular service area is based on the area’s percentage share of the total U.S. poverty population.
Pursuant to the FY 2013 appropriations legislation (P.L. 113-6), Congress changed the schedule for recalculating LSC’s distribution of grants based on updated census data from every ten years to every three years. For 2016, LSC made the required triennial adjustment in grant distribution. The following table shows 2016 basic field funding for each state using the most recent census data, the amount LSC requests for each state for FY 2017, and the change in each state’s funding as a result of the census adjustment.
|Basic Field Grants|
|% Change in
|District of Columbia||754,782||-2.5%||1,001,373|
Significant Justice Gap Continues
The gap between the number of people who need legal services and the resources available to meet their needs remains significant. One in five Americans qualifies for legal services today. In 2016, income eligibility for LSC-funded legal aid—125% of the federal poverty guideline—is $14,850 for an individual and $30,375 for a family of four.
The most recent data from the Census Bureau show that the number of people eligible for LSC-funded services in 2014 was 63 million. This was only slightly lower than in 2012, when the number was the highest in LSC’s history. Although we project that the eligible population will decrease slightly by 2017, the total number of people in need of services will remain very high, and significantly higher than before the recession began.
Based on the most recent information available from the Census Bureau and the Congressional Budget Office, we estimate that 59.4 million Americans will be financially eligible for services at LSC grantees in FY 2017, nearly a 17% increase since 2007.2
LSC’s Justice Gap Reports in 2005 and 2009,3 before the eligible population spiked, showed that even then LSC grantees were able to assist only 50% of those persons who sought legal assistance. In 2010, when LSC received its largest appropriation in absolute dollars, grantees provided services to 2.3 million people in all households served. Four years later, after LSC’s appropriations fell, LSC grantees were able to help only 1.9 million people in all households served, a decline of 17%.
A recent study by the Boston Bar Association found that in Massachusetts, civil legal aid programs turned away 64% of eligible low-income people in 2013, a 14% increase from 2006.4 Nearly 33,000 low-income residents in Massachusetts were denied the aid of a lawyer in life-essential matters involving eviction, foreclosure, and family law, including cases of child abuse and domestic violence. People seeking assistance with family law cases were turned away 80% of the time.
In 2015, Michigan, Florida, and Washington State issued updated justice gap reports. In Michigan, the number of people qualified for free legal aid increased by 53% between 2000 to 2013 to over 2 million people.5 Funding cuts since 2010 have led to two office closures, 49 staff cuts, and nearly a 19% reduction in the number of cases handled between 2011 and 2013. In Florida, only 16% of people with at least one legal problem during the past year received assistance.6 A Washington State Supreme Court report released last year found that 70% of low-income households in Washington faced a significant civil legal issue in the past 12 months, but three-fourths did not seek or could not obtain legal assistance.7
Inadequate Funding Jeopardizes Grantee Services
Despite recent increases to LSC’s funding in FY 2015 and 2016, LSC grantees have not recovered from the significant cut in funding from 2010 to 2014. Over the four-year period, funding for LSC grantees decreased by nearly $60 million—leading to staff reductions, office closures, and fewer people served. There is a clear correlation between the number of cases closed by LSC grantees and available funding in 2014. Although LSC’s appropriation increased by nearly 7% in 2014, the funding level for basic field grants continued to reflect a decrease of 15% from the 2010 high of $394.4 million. Cases closed by grantees during the same time period decreased by nearly 19%. In 2014, grantees closed a total of 757,983 cases, down from the 174,423 cases closed in 2010.
Although total cases closed dropped from 2010 to 2014, pro bono cases increased from 71,444 to 80,077 during the same time period. In 2014, pro bono cases represented 10.7% of total cases closed by LSC grantees, the highest in LSC’s history.
The Growing Problem of Unrepresented Litigants
Inadequate funding for legal aid, combined with an enormous poverty population, has increased the number of unrepresented litigants in state courts. While there are no national data on pro se litigants, judges across the country report that the economic downturn has caused a spike in the number of unrepresented litigants in civil cases (especially in foreclosure, domestic relations, and consumer disputes). According to The Justice Index, a project of the National Center for Access to Justice at the Cardozo Law School, more than 80% of litigants appear without lawyers in matters as important as evictions, mortgage foreclosures, child custody and child support proceedings, and debt collection cases in state courts.8
For example, according to judges’ reports to the LSC Board of Directors:
- Arizona: 90% of litigants in domestic violence and probate cases are unrepresented.9
- Florida: 80% of divorce cases had at least one pro se litigant, and 1,600 litigants per month in Jacksonville alone are unrepresented.10
- Hawaii: 96% of defendants in landlord-tenant cases are pro se; 80% of defendants are
- unrepresented in foreclosure cases.11
- Minnesota: in 71% of family law cases at least one party is pro se.12
- New York: more than 1.8 million litigants in civil matters are pro se,13 and 99% of New York City tenants in eviction cases were unrepresented.14
The Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) of state supreme courts, a non-partisan organization comprised of the chief justices and judges of every state, has been a strong advocate of funding for LSC. In 2013, the CCJ released a policy paper, “The Importance of Funding for the Legal Services Corporation from the Perspective of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA),” showing that the large number of unrepresented citizens overwhelming state courts has negative consequences on the effective and efficient operation of the courts.15 The paper concludes that adequate funding for LSC is necessary to better meet the demand for legal services and to ensure access to justice for all.16 In 2015, the CCJ and COSCA adopted a resolution calling on all members of Congress to provide funding to the Legal Services Corporation at the level necessary to enable legal services providers to furnish critically needed legal assistance and advice to low-income and vulnerable Americans.17
The judges agree that large numbers of unrepresented litigants:
- Clog the courts.
- Take up the time of court personnel.
- Cost opposing parties more in legal fees because of disruptions and delays.
- Cause more cases to advance to litigation.
Result in cases being decided on technical errors rather than the legal merits of a case.18
A 2014 report by the Boston Bar Association included judges’ assessment of the effect that lack of representation has on the courts.19 The study included the following table that highlights the magnitude of the problem by case type in Massachusetts.
|Case Type||Percentage of Cases Where Petitioner is
|Percentage of Cases
Where Respondent is
Does Not Appear
|Percentage of Cases
Where At Least One Party is
Does Not Appear
|Financial and housing||1%||92%||93%|
Similarly, a 2013 report from Arkansas addressed the growing problem of pro se litigants in the state’s courts.20 More than 90% of the responding judges reported that cases with one or more self-represented parties were handled less efficiently than those with attorneys on both sides. Two-thirds of the responding judges believed that cases with self-represented litigants take longer than cases with attorneys to reach disposition. The most frequent comment from judges was that self-represented litigants expect judges to help them try their cases. Eighty percent of the judges reported that self-representation has a negative impact on case outcomes. One judge reported, “there have been times (self-represented litigants) prevailed, but very, very seldom.”21
Civil Legal Aid Is a Good Investment of Taxpayer Dollars
Providing civil legal aid is one of the most effective ways to help Americans navigate the justice system while also promoting greater efficiency in the courts. The modest federal contribution to civil legal aid—only 39% of total funding for LSC-supported legal aid programs, and only 25% of all legal aid funding in the United States—is a good investment, allowing millions of Americans to safeguard their basic legal rights at minimal cost. LSC grantees supplement federal resources by engaging partners and accessing alternative funding sources, such as Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) funds, state and local appropriations and grants, philanthropic foundations, and individual donors. They also collaborate with a wide network of law firms, individual practitioners, bar associations, law schools, access to justice commissions, and business and community organizations to expand free legal help for the poor.
A growing body of research demonstrates that investment in civil legal aid yields significant economic benefits for communities, state and local governments, and individuals. Studies in several states illustrate that civil legal aid grows economies, positively affecting the housing market and reducing homeless shelter costs, foreclosure and eviction rates, incidence of domestic abuse, and unemployment. In 2014 and 2015, the following states released economic studies highlighting the benefits resulting from making legal aid available.22
- Every $1 spent representing families and individuals in housing court saved $2.69 on other services, such as emergency shelter, healthcare, foster care, and law enforcement.
- Providing legal services to survivors of domestic violence saved $16 million in medical costs, workplace productivity, and wages lost.
- Legal aid representation of low-income clients generated nearly $2 million in cost savings, including prevention of domestic violence, evictions and foreclosures, and increased court cost effectiveness.
- Providing legal services to survivors of domestic violence saved $1.4 million in medical costs alone.
- Assisting homeowners to avoid foreclosures and evictions saved more than $560,000 in shelter costs.
- Civil legal aid in eviction cases saved $220 million in costs that would have been spent on shelters. Another $40 million was saved by providing brief representation in other housing matters.
- Providing legal services to survivors of domestic violence saved $85 million in medical and mental health expenses, workplace productivity, and wages lost.
- Preventing 488 foreclosures in 2012 saved more than $11 million in home values.
- Assisting homeowners to avoid evictions saved more than $4 million that would have been spent on providing emergency shelter.
- Providing legal services to survivors of domestic violence saved more than $1 million in medical costs alone.
- In 2011, the economic benefits generated by legal aid providers saved $25 million that would have been spent on emergency shelter.
- Nearly 7,000 families received protection from abuse orders that saved $23 million in medical expenses, counseling for affected children, and law enforcement resources.
- Civil legal aid saved $1.3 million that would have been spent on emergency shelter.
- Providing legal services to survivors of domestic violence saved $7.5 million in medical and mental health expenses, social services, law enforcement resources, workplace productivity and wages lost, and judicial system costs.
- Preventing foreclosure through legal aid saved residents and local governments an estimated $33.8 million in shelter costs.
- Providing legal services to survivors of domestic violence saved $1.9 million in costs related to medical and mental healthcare, counseling for affected children, and law enforcement resources.
- Providing homelessness prevention assistance resulted in about $1.2 million savings in emergency shelter costs. A total of 632 low-income families (with 1,704 family members) avoided the need for emergency shelter, saving an estimated $12,790 per family.
Basic Field Grants Support Critical Constituent Services
|Budget item||FY 2016 Actual||FY 2017 Request||% of Overall Request|
|Basic Field Grants||$352,000,000||$467,000,000||93%|
LSC requests $467 million for “basic field grants” to fund the day-to-day operations of legal aid organizations. LSC grantees help constituents who live in households with annual incomes at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines—$14,850 for an individual and $30,375 for a family of four in 2016. Eligible constituents span every demographic and live in rural, suburban, and urban areas. They include veterans and military families, homeowners and renters, families with children, farmers, the disabled, and the elderly.
Who Qualifies for LSC-Funded Services
Nearly one in three (30.6%) Americans—95.2 million people—qualified for LSC-funded services at some time during 2014, the most recent year for which U.S. Census Bureau data are available. Of these:
- 63 million people—one in five Americans—had annual incomes below the income threshold for LSC-funded legal assistance.23
- Another 32.2 million people had incomes below the 125% level for at least two consecutive months during the year.24
Of the 63 million people living in households with annual incomes below 125% of poverty in 2014:
- 6.5 million (10.3%) were seniors 65 years or older.25
- 11.6 million (18.4%) were persons with disabilities.26
An estimated 1.8 million veterans are eligible for LSC-funded services.27
One-half (50.9%) of working age adults (16–64 years old) eligible for LSC-funded services are employed. Nearly one in seven—5.7 million—worked full-time, year-round in 2014, but earned so little that their families had annual incomes less than 125% of the federal poverty line.28
Types of Cases Handled by LSC-Funded Programs
Millions of Americans cannot access the civil justice system because they cannot afford a lawyer. Some seek protection from an abusive spouse, or are fighting for custody of an abused or orphaned child. Others face homelessness because of a wrongful eviction or foreclosure. They may be Iraq or Afghanistan war veterans who have returned home to economic strain and confront legal issues. Or they may be elderly citizens who have fallen victim to fraud and lost their life savings.
LSC-funded legal aid ensures that eligible constituents do not have to navigate the legal system alone. In 2014, LSC grantees helped 1.9 million people in all households served. Grantees closed 757,983 cases nationwide, including 80,953 with the involvement of pro bono attorneys. Nearly 69% of the people assisted (516,960) were women, and 16% (120,182) were at least 60 years old. Sixty percent of all cases closed involved family law and housing matters. LSC grantees provide quality legal counsel at no cost to low-income constituents who could not otherwise afford an attorney. They employ experienced legal professionals who are experts in civil legal matters.
- Family Law: LSC grantees help parents obtain and keep custody of their children, family members secure guardianship of orphaned and abused children, and victims of domestic violence get protective orders. Approximately one-third of all cases closed by LSC grantees are family law cases.
- Housing and Foreclosure Cases: The second largest category of cases closed includes efforts to resolve landlord-tenant disputes, avoid wrongful foreclosures or renegotiate mortgages, and assist renters whose landlords are being foreclosed upon.
- Consumer Issues: Many cases involve protecting the elderly and other vulnerable individuals from being victimized by unscrupulous lenders or merchants and providing legal advice about debt management and consumer rights.
- Income Maintenance: LSC grantees also help clients obtain veterans’ unemployment, disability, and healthcare benefits for which they are eligible and provide representation when benefits are wrongly denied.
The cases described below are examples of real people being helped by legal aid programs across the country. For more client stories in every state, please visit LSC’s website at www.lsc.gov/media-center/client-success-stories.
Legal Aid Protects Victims of Domestic Violence
Family law cases, including domestic violence and child custody, represent approximately one-third of the cases closed by LSC-funded grantees each year. Millions of women, men, and children experience domestic violence in the U.S. every year.29 Legal aid is essential to protect domestic violence victims and their families and to help them overcome many associated problems that can endanger their safety and stability. LSC grantees closed more than 110,000 domestic violence and child custody cases in 2014.
Domestic violence survivors are not guaranteed a lawyer. Only a small fraction of domestic violence incidents lead to criminal prosecutions, and while abusers facing criminal charges have a right to an attorney, survivors seeking protective orders or custody of their children do not.
Research shows that increasing access to civil legal aid is one of the most effective strategies to curb rates of domestic violence.
MOTHER ESCAPES ABUSIVE SPOUSE
Betigist, a mother of a one-and-a-half-year-old son, was in fear for her life. Her husband started to abuse her after she got pregnant.
He would hit her, punch her, drag her by the hair, and threaten to kill her with a pair of scissors. She left her husband and went into a shelter program. She went to legal aid to get help. With the assistance from an attorney at Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), she was able to get a five-year restraining order and sole legal custody of her son. She said she was hopeless, but after legal aid, she got her hope back. Betigist is now enrolled in school and wants to be a doctor one day. “Legal aid saved me and my son’s life.”
A recent study by the Institute for Policy Integrity found that civil legal aid is more effective than access to shelters or counseling services in reducing domestic violence—by as much as 21%.30
Survivors of domestic violence rate the filing of a protective order as one of their two most effective tools for stopping domestic violence, second only to leaving the abuser.31 According to one study, 83% of victims represented by an attorney successfully obtained a protective order, compared to only 32% of victims without an attorney.32
According to the Department of Justice, women in the lowest income households experience seven times the rate of abuse suffered by women in the highest income households.33 More than a third of all women and a quarter of all men in the U.S. have been subjected to rape, physical violence, or stalking at the hands of an intimate partner.34 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that the cost of intimate partner violence in the U.S. exceeds $5.8 billion every year.35
Improving a woman’s chances of obtaining a protective order is the most effective way legal assistance can help reduce domestic violence. In 2014, LSC grantees provided legal assistance to more than a quarter million (275,000) domestic violence victims and family members. Grantees represented domestic violence victims in nearly one in seven (14.5%) of the cases handled that year.36 Grantees assist victims in addressing a variety of legal problems, including:
- Obtaining court orders to protect victims and their families from the immediate threat of violence.
- Obtaining custody of vulnerable children and child support.
- Ensuring fair distribution of assets from a divorce.
- Ensuring access to necessary medical care, housing, employment, and other essential services.
Domestic Violence Is a Major Cause of Homelessness. A study funded by the Department of Justice found that approximately one in four homeless women “is homeless mainly because of her experiences with violence;”37 12% of the sheltered persons in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) annual homeless “point-in-time” survey were victims of domestic violence;38 and the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that 16% of homeless adults were domestic violence victims and that domestic violence was among the leading causes of homelessness among families.39
Domestic Violence Affects Health. More than 41% of intimate partner physical assaults cause injury; 28% of these injuries result in victims receiving medical attention (over three-quarters of which require hospitalization).40 Beyond death and immediate serious physical injury, domestic violence can have lifelong health consequences for its victims. Compared to those who have not been abused, women subjected to domestic violence have significantly higher rates of physical problems (e.g., stroke, heart disease, asthma, gastro-intestinal disorders, gynecological or pregnancy complications, chronic pain) and mental health disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, suicide attempts) that can lead to hospitalization, disability, or death.41
How Legal Aid Helps Veterans
Local legal aid offices are gateways for veterans in need of civil legal assistance. Many veterans who served in combat confront legal problems—such as foreclosures, evictions, consumer fraud, child custody issues, and wrongful denials of benefits—that LSC-funded legal aid programs handle. LSC grantees across the country partner with veterans’ associations, advocates, and other service providers to do outreach and expand legal services to veterans.
An estimated 1.8 million veterans are eligible for LSC-funded services. Younger veterans and veterans of the Gulf War II era are far more economically vulnerable than non-veterans. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, the unemployment rate for veterans is 16% versus 12.5% for non-veterans.42 All Gulf War II-era veterans (those serving on active duty after September 2001) have an unemployment rate of 7%, compared to 6% for non-veterans over 18 years old.
In 2014, LSC grantees assisted more than 120,000 veterans and their family members with a range of legal problems. In addition to providing direct legal assistance, LSC grantees employ multiple strategies to identify and respond to the needs of veterans and their families. Veterans are especially vulnerable to homelessness. While veterans represent 8% of the U.S. population, they comprise 12% of the homeless adult population. According to HUD, approximately 50,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.43 In addition, another 1.4 million veterans are at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
VETERANS ADVOCATE AVOIDS HOMELESSNESS*
Lee was at risk of losing his home to a foreclosure action becauseof long-term intermittent unemployment. He is a peer counselor forveterans with substance abuse problems and a member of the Hu-man Rights Committee that is part of the Veterans Administration HealthCare System in Boston. Homelessness would have been devastating. Leesought help from legal aid; an attorney at the Volunteers Lawyers Projectof the Boston Bar Association assisted him with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy
Many LSC grantees have leveraged LSC funding with other federal funds, such as the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to promote housing stability among homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. As a result, more LSC grantees are able to provide increased outreach, case management, assistance in obtaining VA benefits, and help in accessing and coordinating other public benefits. In addition, grantees can make time-limited temporary payments on behalf of veterans to cover rent, utilities, security deposits, and moving costs.
For example, Legal Aid of West Virginia (LAWV) provides services to veterans on legal issues including bankruptcy, collections, consumer law, education, employment, adoptions, custody, divorce, child support, minor guardianship, housing, income maintenance, individual rights, licenses, and advance directives and power of attorney. Their work includes providing services to veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. LAWV’s attorneys and advocates provide advice or brief services to veterans at drop-in legal clinics, or after a service partner referral. In 2015, LAWV handled nearly 500 veteran cases and brought in $180,709 in lump sum awards or avoidances for clients and nearly $3,000 in ongoing monthly benefits or avoidances.
In 2013, Memphis Area Legal Services in Tennessee received an initial grant from the VA to implement an SSVF program and helped more than 100 veterans. In its second year of the program, Memphis Area Legal Services helped another 100 veterans. Other LSC grantees working on veteran issues that have obtained funds from the VA to expand services are located in Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
In recent years, LSC and the VA have worked together to expand legal services to veterans and military families. As a part of this initiative, LSC supports StatesideLegal.org—the first website in the nation to focus exclusively on veterans’ federal legal rights and resources. Stateside Legal is a free resource developed by Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Inc. in Portland, Maine with a grant from LSC that serves low-income individuals with a military connection, including veterans, current members of the military, and their families. The website provides information on a variety of subjects including disability benefits, employment matters, and legal protections for service members facing foreclosure proceedings. The website:
- Provides accurate, user-friendly legal content in high-priority areas of the law.
- Identifies which legal protections and programs are available in specific situations (e.g., which apply to all veterans, activated National Guard members, or spouses.)
- Provides links to other resources on a state-by-state basis.
The VA encourages use of Stateside Legal in connection with service to homeless veterans. In 2015, the website had more than 467,000 visitors from all 50 states and several countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq, and recorded nearly one million page views. Currently the website has 12,000 visitors a week.
Helping Families Stay in Their Homes
Millions of families across the country are at risk of losing their homes because of the scarcity of affordable housing and skyrocketing eviction rates. The lack of access to a legal remedy can result in losing one’s home. Civil legal aid can be essential—and effective—for families seeking to retain or obtain safe housing. In 2014, LSC grantees helped more than half a million (530,000) people secure or retain access to safe, affordable housing.44 Overall, housing cases represent 28% of all cases closed by LSC grantees nationwide.
FAMILY KEEPS THEIR HOME
After 32 years of marriage, Jacqueline’s husband abruptly left her and their two children. Over the next two years, she struggled to pay her mortgage and provide for her family while working as a certified nursing assistant. Because her estranged husband paid no child support and made no other financial contributions, Jacqueline had to work two or three jobs just to stay afloat. In March 2014, she lost her primary job and could not make her mortgage payments. Her home fell into foreclosure. With the assistance of an attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina, the foreclosure sale was deferred and Jacqueline received financial assistance from a federal program to keep her home. Legal aid was able to negotiate a settlement that included 15 months of additional help with her mortgage while she got back on her feet. Jacqueline now has the safety and security she needs to raise her children and restart her career.
Research shows that legal representation can be essential to protect low-income persons’ housing. For example, a study by the Boston Bar Association found that renters represented by an attorney were twice as likely to avoid eviction as those without an attorney, and the amount of the rent benefits they received was nearly five times greater.45
HUD reports that more than half a million people were homeless in the U.S. on any single night in 2014.46 Nearly one-fourth (23%) were children under 18. Far more—an estimated 2.5–3.5 million people—experience homelessness at some point during the year.47 The Department of Education reports that in the 2013-2014 school year, more than 1.3 million school children were homeless.48 These numbers would be far higher but for the ability of people to move in with family or friends; more than 7.4 million low-income people were living in “doubled-up” households in 2012.49
Evictions rates remain high across the country. Millions of Americans are at chronic risk of losing their homes. One in three (34%) renters report they would need to move in with other family members or friends if they lost their homes.50 According to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, “the number of renters living in housing they cannot afford continues to set new records.” Nearly half of all renters, and over 80% of those with annual incomes under $15,000, were “cost burdened”—which required them to cut back on other vital needs, such as food, health, and transportation.51 Although foreclosure rates have fallen in recent years, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) estimates that nearly 1 million homes are in foreclosure.52
Helping Survivors of Natural Disasters
Legal challenges can haunt disaster survivors for years as they seek to replace legal identification papers such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and Social Security cards; apply for disaster benefits; and deal with insurance claim issues. Many survivors face a variety of other legal issues involving their housing, from preventing unlawful evictions and foreclosures to combating contractor scams. Some survivors need assistance with school transfers and transportation as well as obtaining food stamps and public assistance.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, LSC developed expertise in disaster response and has built a network of partnerships with other organizations to help LSC’s grantees better serve clients when disaster strikes. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, LSC assisted grantees in 42 states with disaster preparation and response. LSC made a special grant of $233,986 to Legal Services New York City to provide services to survivors of Hurricane Sandy using pro bono attorneys and technology.
MOTHER AVOIDS FORECLOSURE OF HER FLOODED HOME
The floods of 2008 devastated Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and one of its victims was Ethel. She is a single mother and owner of a catering business. The floods severely damaged Ethel’s home and her business suffered cancellations. She fell behind on her payments, and Ethel’s home went into foreclosure. An attorney at Iowa Legal Aid helped Ethel get a loan modification and stay in her home with an affordable monthly payment. She now has a safe and secure place to raise her young daughter. She is grateful to legal aid for saving her home, and giving her confidence and hope for a better future.
In addition to responding to specific disasters, LSC maintains regular communication with the American Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure a coordinated response when disasters occur. LSC convenes regular national Legal Aid Disaster Network calls to address disaster-related issues as needed. The National Disaster Legal Aid website, www.disasterlegalaid.org, is sponsored by LSC, the American Bar Association, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, and Pro Bono Net. The website helps victims of hurricanes, fires, floods, and other disasters.
In 2015, LSC awarded Midwest Legal Disaster Coordination grants using private funds. Two LSC grantees, Iowa Legal Aid and Legal Aid of Nebraska, received grants to support projects that develop coordinated plans between disaster preparedness organizations and legal service providers in the Midwest. These grants will help the legal aid organizations address the need for civil legal aid in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters and integrate a legal component for low-income individuals into statewide disaster preparedness plans.
Iowa Legal Aid received a grant of $367,700 to develop mobile technology to help disaster survivors better reach legal aid programs after a disaster occurs. Iowa Legal Aid will partner with Pro Bono Net to adapt its mobile template for an application that provides disaster-related resources to clients and attorneys. In addition, Iowa Legal Aid will create a multi-component toolkit for use by other legal aid organizations across the country. The toolkit will help legal aid programs prepare in advance for the legal responses often needed after disasters and provide best practices for responding to a disaster, including how to assist with long-term recovery. The project will help legal aid programs cultivate relationships with their statewide disaster recovery community and develop training materials for legal and non-legal disaster responders.
Legal Aid of Nebraska received a grant of $400,000 to help better prepare Nebraskans to access free legal services when disaster strikes. Legal Aid of Nebraska will create an interactive web portal and a statewide legal disaster response training program for attorneys and other stakeholders. Legal Aid of Nebraska will also host disaster preparedness workshops throughout the state and work closely with local pro bono attorneys to provide free onsite legal aid to disaster victims in afflicted areas. Legal Aid of Nebraska will also leverage its experience with automated forms preparation and online guidance for people without legal representation, which can be replicated in other regions.
Helping the Elderly and Disabled
LSC grantees provide the elderly and people with disabilities with legal representation, information, counseling, and education in civil legal matters. In 2014, clients who were 60 and older represented 16% of the clients served by LSC grantees. LSC grantees assisted an estimated 190,000 seniors and their family members with legal issues related to predatory lending and consumer fraud, access to affordable housing, and necessary medical care.53
ELDERLY WOMAN GETS HELP WITH MOUNTING DEBT
Seventy-three-year old Auda had never considered herself a candidate for financial aid. She had successfully weathered financial struggles in the past, working at a job she enjoyed for 23 years. After losing her husband to cancer and being diagnosed with two brain tumors, however, she was forced to take medical retirement. The recession and her daughter’s own financial troubles worsened her situation. Auda took on more and more credit card debt, which lowered her credit limit and increased her interest rate to more than 30%. Through a referral to a volunteer attorney by Lone Star Legal Aid, Auda was able to get Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Auda is grateful for the “caring, timely, and informed” help she received, which allowed her to get back on her feet.
Nearly one in five (18%) of those eligible for LSC-funded services are persons with disabilities.54 In 2014, LSC grantees helped nearly 90,000 individuals and their family members get assistance in obtaining or preserving federal assistance for disabled persons, securing access to appropriate educational services, and protecting their rights.55
Leveraging Technology to Expand Access to Justice
LSC requests $5 million for the Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) program for FY 2017, the same amount we have requested for the past five years. This would allow LSC to build on the success of the program and to increase our ability to provide essential information, advice, and representation to more eligible clients. LSC’s TIG program plays a major role in expanding access to justice.
Since 2000, TIG has funded more than 647 projects totaling more than $53 million. With these grants, LSC grantees have been able to build a foundation for better service delivery that includes statewide websites; enhanced capacity for intake and case management systems; and automated forms to support clients, staff, and pro bono efforts.
Additional funding would enable LSC to expand access to justice through the use of technology. In 2015, LSC awarded technology grants to 30 grantees in 25 states. The grants support a variety of initiatives, including developing a website with special resources for seniors and domestic violence victims, creating a hotline for family and housing law advice through text messaging, and implementing a videoconferencing system for remote client interviews.
Examples of projects funded include:
Disaster Relief Website
Lone Star Legal Aid maintains DisasterLegalAid.org as a website for legal services after a disaster. Features include:
- Accessibility for mobile users, making it easy to navigate and access resources.
- Hundreds of useful documents and resources during the grant period; the number of website page views doubled in one year.
- A Pro Bono Opportunities Guide.
Online Applications Expand Access to Working Clients
LSC grantees in Pennsylvania, Idaho, and Illinois have developed websites with online legal aid applications to make it easier for clients to know which legal services they need and to more easily and efficiently apply for legal assistance. The use of online applications allows clients to apply for services outside of normal business hours. In addition, the websites save clients time by clearly explaining and guiding them through their legal options.
- Neighborhood Legal Services Association in Pittsburgh developed an intake system that clients can use in both English and Spanish. It is accessed most frequently outside of regular business hours, when telephone or in-person service is not possible. The website has also decreased the time it takes to apply for assistance to an average of 12 minutes.
- Idaho Legal Aid Services created a statewide infrastructure on the Drupal content management system to develop innovative programs that can be shared and replicated by other legal aid organizations using Drupal.
- All three legal aid organizations in Illinois collaborated to create one statewide website. This site is able to direct clients to legal services located in their area and walks them through the application process.
Online application systems also simplify how legal aid organizations keep track of a case, which saves time and reduces mistakes. The TIG program has encouraged replication and improvement of online intake systems across the country.
Expanded Access for Populations with Special Needs
Atlanta Legal Aid developed the website OlmsteadRights.org in partnership with the National Disability Rights Network and Pro Bono Net. Based on the Supreme Court case that affirmed the right of people with disabilities to receive treatment in their own homes, the website provides resources and information for self-advocates, family and friends of people with disabilities, and legal aid attorneys that help enforce this important legal right. These resources include information that is organized state-by-state, a self-help assessment tool, and tools for legal aid and pro bono attorneys. The site had more than 21,000 visitors from March through November 2015, and the organization expects the number of site visitors to grow as Atlanta Legal Aid expands outreach initiatives.
|2015 TIG Grants (Total Funding $4,203,977)|
|State||Grantee||Grant Amount||Grant Description|
|AK||Alaska Legal Services||$104,629||Implement online learning tools, similar to the classroom module on CTLawHelp. org, to provide users with information to successfully navigate their legal issue through 8–10 online learning classes aimed specifically at their client community.|
|AR||Center for Arkansas Legal Services||$42,315||Support the development of “SmartPanels,” an automated content management system to enable the program’s website to become self-sustaining, with limited interaction from program staff.|
|CA||Legal Aid Society of Orange County||$152,200||to simplify access for self-represented litigants.|
|CT||Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut||$66,369||Support a multi-state interactive online game developed by the Justice Education Society called the Families Change Guides and Changeville to help families cope with divorces.|
|FL||Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida||$67,200||Implement a videoconferencing system to connect the program’s eight offices, and conduct remote client interviews. The system will work on multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs. The grant will also support informational videos about Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings.|
|FL||Florida Rural Legal Services||$77,639||Implement an advanced digital call center system to route calls to the program’s centralized intake and advice hotline for family and housing law matters. The system will enable text messaging for callers to connect to the program’s website.|
|GA||Georgia Legal Services||$52,200||Implement a new online intake system that includes an A2J interface and triage tool.|
|HI||Legal Aid Society of Hawaii||$140,669||Create a statewide centralized legal services portal for self-represented litigants from nine access to justice organizations in the state; partner with ProBono.Net to expand LawHelp Interactive interview application for use on mobile and tablet devices.|
|ID||Idaho Legal Aid Services||$84,306||Enhance the statewide legal aid website on the Drupal platform to facilitate the creation of innovative and highly replicable programs that can be used by all legal aid organizations in the state.|
|IL||Legal Assistance Foundation||$70,750||Integrate SMS texting into the statewide legal services website. The project will expand access to legal information through the use of text messaging.|
|KS||Kansas Legal Aid||$122,200||Provide a comprehensive online search tool on program’s website, modify all current and new web content through the use of evaluation tools from WriteClearly.org, and develop a specifically designated website to engage private attorneys.|
|MA||Community Legal Aid||$55,700||Enhance the program’s intake system by creating a user-friendly online application in both English and Spanish that will be integrated with the case management system.|
|MA||Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association||$137,200||Enhance mobile access to pro bono resources in the state. The project will design, test and model new approaches to delivering substantive resources for volunteers, as well as develop new mobile technologies and content models that can be replicated nationally.|
|ME||Pine Tree Legal Assistance||$97,720||Support expansion of the national veteran’s legal assistance website, Stateside Legal, and market its resources to stakeholders serving low-income veterans and military families.|
|MI||Michigan Advocacy Program||$187,400||Create an automated script management tool to enable easier translation and modification of HotDocs document assembly interviews; develop a statewide online triage system that uses highly detailed expert logic trees to guide people to the most effective resource easily.|
|MN||Legal Services of Northeastern MN||$47,640||Enhance the program’s statewide website supporting legal services and pro bono attorneys by incorporating compatibility with mobile devices, updating content and navigation, and promoting the enhanced site.|
|MT||Montana Legal Services Association||$124,000||Develop a system-wide mobile-friendly interface for clients by adding SMS texting capacity to the case management system, enhancing the mobile on-line intake process and functionality of the program website, and providing data to clients using mobile devices.|
|NM||New Mexico Legal Aid||$262,393||Create a “pitch portal” website (JusticeHub) to provide virtual workspaces for stakeholders to develop, showcase, and crowdsource cross-platform technical solutions to improve the delivery of legal service; and improve the predictive power of its multi-agency New Mexico data sharing project.|
|NY||Legal Assistance of Western
|$250,680||Make improvements to the newly created WriteClearly and ReadClearly systems that use plain language to help people navigate online resources; create a single online entry point for low-income western New Yorkers with consumer related matters. The system will prescreen clients, making direct referrals to legal services providers or to other service providers.|
|OH||Community Legal Aid Services||$97,507||Create a multi-program online triage center to guide unrepresented individuals to the proper service provider or web-based resource.|
|OH||Ohio State Legal Services||$748,427||Support and enhance LawHelp Interactive (LHI), the national online document assembly service, to provide support to legal services, court, pro bono, and law school programs in more than 40 states; and create mobile app for both Android and iOS devices to provide useful calculators to assess a person’s case, offline access to court rules, access case management data, complete forms and send push notifications to clients.|
|OH||Legal Aid Society of Cleveland||$65,900||Create an outcomes texting project to automatically send text to clients that received limited service or attended a community legal education seminar.|
|PA||Neighborhood Legal Services Association||$62,200||Create an online intake and triage system to easily direct people to legal information and assistance. Based on a person’s response to initial questions, that person will be referred to intake staff, provided an action plan or referred to appropriate service providers.|
|TX||Lone Star Legal Aid||$130,438||Develop the Texas Interactive Forms Project that will include plain-language, step- by-step guided interviews to create electronic court forms and e-filing forms.|
|UT||Utah Legal Services||$77,200||Enhance the case management system by creating modules to automate and streamline various administrative functions such as timekeeping, reporting, and approvals.|
|VA||Blue Ridge Legal Services||$127,200||In partnership with the National Center for State Courts, Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court of Virginia, and the Virginia Access to Justice Commission, conduct a study to measure the impact of self-represented litigants in state courts and analyze the unmet civil legal needs in the state.|
|VA||Legal Services of Northern Virginia||$102,200||Create a legal case navigator, which is a mobile-friendly web-based app that will allow users to access and navigate the court system anytime and anywhere.|
|WA||Northwest Justice Project||$505,660||Create mobile-compatible, web-based legal education videos that will be accessible for others to replicate; and improve the Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project by supporting a core collections of services and resources, providing one-on-one guidance on a variety of legal technologies, and help other legal services programs replicate other TIG technologies.|
|WI||Wisconsin Judicare||$53,435||Replicate the Utah Legal Services Online Intake Process and adapt it to the program’s new phone system. The new system would integrate guided interviews, offer chat assistance, and triage clients.|
|WV||Legal Aid of West Virginia||$90,600||Create six online interactive training classrooms and toolkits to assist private volunteer attorneys to help clients. The project will include videos, document assembly forms, client interview guides, and tip sheets.|
Increasing Pro Bono Among the Private Bar
|Budget item||FY 2016 Actual||FY 2017 Request||% of Overall Request|
|Pro Bono Innovation Fund||$4,000,000||$5,000,000||1%|
LSC requests $5 million for the Pro Bono Innovation Fund (PBIF)—the same amount we requested for the past three years. Congress appropriated $2.5 million for PBIF for the first time in FY 2014, and increased the appropriation to $4 million in FY 2015 and FY 2016.
Projects funded under this program develop, test, and replicate innovative pro bono efforts that will enable LSC grantees to expand and promote initiatives using volunteer lawyers throughout the country. The grant criteria require both innovation (new ideas or new applications of existing best practices) and replicability (likelihood that the innovation, if successful, could be implemented by other legal aid programs). It leverages federal dollars to increase free civil legal aid for low-income Americans by engaging private attorneys.
Although pro bono volunteers cannot replace the work of legal aid lawyers, many of whom are subject-matter experts, the private bar continues to be a critical resource in addressing the civil legal needs of the low-income community. Private practitioners, in-house corporate counsel, retired lawyers, law students, and paralegals are eager to assist by donating their time.
Over the past two years, LSC has invested more than $6 million in 26 different projects in 19 states. Collaborations with more than 30 partners and other organizations represent 23% of the total funding. Partners include bar-sponsored volunteer lawyer programs, healthcare providers, technology providers, and law schools.
FY 2015 Pro Bono Awards Help Veterans, Seniors, Students, and Others
In September 2015, LSC awarded grants to 15 legal aid organizations in 13 states to support innovations in pro bono legal services for low-income clients. Many of the FY 2015 funded projects will use technology to connect low-income populations to resources and services, while others aim to increase efficiency and effectiveness through partnerships with law schools, community organizations, and in-house corporate attorneys. Some projects will address issues affecting specific populations such as seniors, veterans, and low-income students.
Pro Bono grants are competitive, with significant interest from LSC grantees and justice stakeholders. In 2015, LSC received 59 letters of intent from 55 LSC grantees from 40 states.
The 2015 letters of intent reflected important trends and challenges for legal services organizations and the pro bono delivery system.
- Rural delivery and remote access. Thirty-six percent of the letters of intent (21 of the 59 letters of intent to apply) sought to improve access to legal assistance for rural clients, veterans, older Americans, limited English-speaking clients, and other hard-to-reach and vulnerable populations.
- Technology to expand services and efficiency. Thirty-seven percent (22 of 59 letters of intent to apply) sought to expand services, streamline volunteer management, or heighten awareness of volunteer opportunities using technology.
- Leveraging partnerships. All letters of intent proposed to collaborate with partners in the legal services network to reach more clients, target special populations, and recruit new volunteers to pro bono service. These included partnerships with large law firms, corporate legal departments, law schools, state courts, bar associations, state access to justice commissions, community service providers, and major healthcare providers.
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation, Healthy Justice Partnership Project
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina decimated New Orleans’ healthcare delivery system, a new model of community health clinics has emerged to serve the city’s most vulnerable populations. This partnership between Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS), the Pro Bono Project based in New Orleans, and the Daughters of Charity Services of New Orleans will:
- Launch a medical-legal partnership to integrate legal aid as part of healthcare in eight community-based health clinics.
- Remove access barriers for low-income clients through new and expanded pro bono services delivered by volunteer lawyers, paralegals, and law students.
- Provide services on critical disability, Medicaid, and housing issues and seek to measure improved health and legal outcomes of clients served through the project.
Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Lawyers for Entrepreneurs
Lawyers for Entrepreneurs will leverage the resources and skills of volunteer business attorneys to provide free business legal assistance and education to low-income entrepreneurs starting or expanding community businesses, with an emphasis on minority and women entrepreneurs who have limited access to capital to afford legal resources. The project will:
- Increase pro bono opportunities for transactional attorneys and recruit new volunteers, meet the legal needs of a larger number of disadvantaged entrepreneurs, and produce online pro bono training materials.
- Fund a national survey of existing transactional pro bono projects for micro-entrepreneurs and develop a manual of best practices that can be shared with other legal aid programs interested in launching a similar effort.
Legal Services NYC, Student Debt Initiative
Low-income people are especially targeted by predatory, for-profit trade schools that make misleading promises about the training offered and job prospects post-graduation. Legal Services NYC will engage pro bono attorneys to obtain relief for these individuals. The project will enlist volunteers who are transactional lawyers at large firms and corporations, as well as law students and others. Volunteers will secure debt discharges, consolidation, and income-related relief for low-income people. The project will also create a national database of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) materials on predatory for-profit schools in partnership with Pro Bono Net. Legal Services NYC will create comprehensive training manuals and videos for volunteers that will be available on probono.net for other legal aid programs.
Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, ACT 2 Project
Twenty-nine percent of active attorneys in the greater Cleveland area are age 60 years or older, and that figure is expected to grow in the next ten years. The ACT 2 Project will create well-structured and supported pro bono opportunities to engage late-career and retired attorneys to serve more low-income clients. ACT 2 attorneys will serve in different capacities such as:
- In-house volunteers handling extended representation cases as part of a practice group.
- In-house volunteers who are responsible for a specific pro bono project.
- Traditional pro bono service through any of the organization’s existing efforts.
The project will provide space and administrative and paralegal support, in addition to the traditional support for volunteers. It will also match senior lawyers with law students and new lawyers for mentoring and to introduce pro bono by more experienced colleagues.
|2015 PBIF Grants|
|State||Grant Amount||Grant Description|
|AK||$187,566||Alaska Legal Services Corporation will create a Pro Bono Training Academy for private attorneys to assist low-income Alaskans, particularly Alaska Natives, who live in extremely remote locations throughout the state. With no law school in Alaska, the organization will partner with the University of Washington School of Law, which recently opened an extension office in Anchorage. The project will also create additional online resources for volunteers, including forms, manuals, pleadings, and brief banks.|
|CA||$280,111||Bay Area Legal Aid will develop specialized pro bono opportunities for law firm partners that involve complex litigation and will benefit a larger number of low-income people. This will build broader and deeper relationships with law firm partners and meet their expressed desire to work on more complex and far-reaching issues for low-income communities.|
|GA||$197,813||Georgia Legal Services Program will create a “pro bono learning lab” within a nonprofit legal incubator. “Lawyers for Equal Justice” is a new, freestanding incubator program established by the State Bar of Georgia, the Georgia Access to Justice Commission, and the five Georgia law schools. The incubator is designed to support recent law graduates in establishing practices that use technology, alternative fee arrangements, new models of practice, and enhanced pro bono to serve the large population of underserved low-income clients.|
|ID||$276,000||Idaho Legal Aid Services, in partnership with the Idaho Volunteers Lawyers Program, will create a pro bono website to assist private attorneys find statewide volunteer opportunities. The project will make pro bono services a more robust part of Idaho’s low-income legal service delivery system by increasing the number of low-income Idahoans who receive legal representation, expanding the cases and services for which attorneys can volunteer.|
|IL||$239,207||LAF, formerly Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, will partner with the Center for Disability and Elder Law to adapt a successful pro bono workshop model into LAF’s intake and scheduling system to enable trained volunteer lawyers to provide assistance to low-income seniors. Documents will be automated and integrated into LAF’s case management system to simplify and streamline the work of the volunteer attorneys. In collaboration with Illinois Legal Aid Online, the project will also create eLearning curriculum that will be available to any volunteer attorney statewide.|
|KY||$333,982||Legal Aid Society (Louisville), in partnership with the three other LSC-funded programs in Kentucky, will create a statewide pro bono program for eligible military veterans to receive legal assistance. The project will coordinate recruitment and training of volunteer lawyers between the four legal aid organizations and create uniform and streamlined intake protocols and case acceptance policies. It will also create a statewide hotline to connect any veteran to trained legal aid staff who will triage their legal issue to volunteers, and enhance the KY Justice Online system to create more content for veterans and to allow volunteer lawyers to provide assistance to clients on their legal questions through a pro bono portal on the website.|
|LA||$290,520||Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation, in partnership with the New Orleans Pro Bono Project and the Daughters of Charity Services, will launch a medical-legal partnership to integrate legal aid as part of healthcare in eight community-based health clinics. The project will provide services on critical disability, Medicaid, and housing issues and seek to measure improved health and legal outcomes of clients served through the project.|
|MA||$209,524||Community Legal Aid (Worcester) will develop a Medical-Legal Partnership to provide legal help to patients participating in a new primary care model at the UMass Memorial Medical Center (UMMMC), the fourth largest safety net health provider in the state. In partnership with the UMMMC General Counsel’s Office and Office of Community Benefits, this project will recruit private attorneys in Central Massachusetts to conduct full assessments of patients’ legal needs and partner with a CLA attorney to integrate legal services into the new primary care model. The project will include a rigorous evaluation to measure the impact of the medical-legal partnership intervention on the new primary care model.|
|MO||$160,000||Legal Services of Eastern Missouri will leverage the resources and skills of volunteer business attorneys to provide free business legal assistance and education to low-income entrepreneurs starting or expanding community businesses with an emphasis on minority and women entrepreneurs. The project will also conduct a national survey of existing transactional pro bono projects for micro-entrepreneurs and will develop a manual of best practices that can be shared with other legal aid programs interested in launching similar efforts.|
|MO||$257,441||The Adopt-a-Neighborhood project seeks to expand Legal Aid of Western Missouri’s efforts to bring large law firm resources to the urban core of Kansas City to improve neighborhood conditions. Based on a successful six-year partnership between a major law firm and the Marlborough neighborhood in Kansas City, the project will expand opportunities for large- and mid-sized firms to form long-term pro bono partnerships and will conduct need and asset assessments in five urban core neighborhoods to determine the best role for law firm and pro bono volunteers.|
|NM||$272,718||New Mexico Legal Aid (NMLA) will create a web-linked statewide coalition of pro bono attorneys, law students, and paralegals to assist low-income families in communities with some of the highest poverty rates in the state. The project will connect pro bono lawyers in urban areas to rural clients via videoconferencing and train law students and paralegals to use the DirectLaw system to provide remote research and other support for pro bono attorneys. In partnership with the Southwest Women’s Law Center and the New Mexico Women’s Bar Association, NMLA will create a statewide “One Woman, One Case” campaign to expand the number of attorneys who can handle family law matters and other legal issues that address persistent poverty.|
|NY||$362,559||Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, in partnership with Legal Assistance of Western New York and the Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County, will create a virtual platform to connect rural clients to urban volunteer lawyers on housing and consumer law matters. The project includes an active campaign to recruit, support, and sustain volunteers and clients in using the new system. The project will create a scalable technology infrastructure that creates efficiencies, expands services, and lowers the cost of serving rural areas.|
|NY||$346,738||Legal Services NYC will engage pro bono attorneys to assist low-income people who are targeted by predatory, for-profit trade schools that make misleading promises about the training offered and job prospects post-graduation. The project will enlist volunteers who are transactional lawyers at large firms and corporations, as well as law students and others. Volunteers will secure debt discharges, consolidation, and income-related relief for low-income people. The project will also create a national database of FOIA materials on predatory for-profit schools in partnership with probono.net, and create training manuals and videos for volunteers that will be available on probono.net for other legal aid programs.|
|OH||$214,566||Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will create a program to engage late-career and retired attorneys to serve more low-income clients. The project will provide space, administrative, paralegal, and other support for the volunteers. It will also match senior lawyers with law students and new lawyers so these early-career lawyers can be mentored and introduced to pro bono by their more experienced colleagues.|
|VA||$171,255||Blue Ridge Legal Services seeks universal pro bono participation by attorneys in the 25th Judicial Circuit by working with the circuit’s 12 judges and bar association leaders to pilot a project of the Virginia Access to Justice Commission. This project will test the effectiveness of engaging the judiciary in encouraging the private bar to undertake pro bono to meet the civil legal needs of the region’s low-income clients. It will create a pro bono planning committee to expand pro bono participation among the circuit’s rural bar associations. The project will also seek to engage the only law school in the circuit, Washington & Lee Law School, to identify the best ways to incorporate law students into the new pro bono efforts.|
LSC Conducts Strict Oversight & Compliance
|Budget item||FY 2016 Actual||FY 2017 Request||% of Overall Request|
|Management and Grants Oversight||$19,000,000||$19,500,000||3.9%|
LSC requests $19.5 million for Management and Grants Oversight (MGO), the same amount we requested for the past seven years. Congress appropriated $19 million for MGO in FY 2016.
The proposed MGO budget would allow LSC to improve oversight, add staff in the Office of Compliance and Enforcement (OCE) and the Office of Program Performance (OPP), increase the number of grantee visits, ensure compliance with good fiscal practice and regulatory and statutory requirements, and improve service delivery to clients. The proposed budget would permit LSC to continue to upgrade our information technology systems and implement improved collection and analysis of data regarding grantee performance.
Oversight Visits Completed in 2015
LSC’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement (OCE) has primary responsibility for monitoring grantee compliance with the LSC Act, regulations, and funding restrictions. OCE also enforces LSC’s Accounting Guide; conducts oversight reviews regarding compliance with the LSC Act and other LSC guidance, including fiscal-related regulations; initiates questioned-cost proceedings; identifies required corrective actions and necessary follow-ups; and provides technical assistance and training to grantees.
In 2015, OCE conducted 25 onsite visits, including 17 compliance oversight visits, four technical assistance visits, two follow-up visits, one capability assessment, and one targeted fiscal review, in Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In addition, OCE staff conducted one session at a regional training (Southeastern Project Directors in Florida) and two training sessions at the annual National Legal Aid & Defender Association conference.
LSC’s Office of Program Performance (OPP) invests resources in program assessment visits, technical assistance, and other initiatives for grantee support. OPP has primary responsibility for administering the competitive grants application and awards process, sharing best practices for providing high-quality civil legal services, and promoting innovative uses of technology by grantees.
In 2015, OPP conducted 28 onsite assessment visits in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. OPP monitored 14 grantees that had special grant conditions to improve performance. OPP expects to complete 35 onsite assessment visits in 2016.
LSC continues to take appropriate corrective actions against grantees that do not comply with the LSC Act and other laws and regulations. Questioned-cost proceedings were completed against three grantees in 2015, and funds were recouped and issues resolved via informal negotiations with five grantees.
Outcome and Performance Measures
One of LSC’s major initiatives involves a project to measure results. LSC currently employs a range of strategies to collect data to document the need for and effect of civil legal aid for low-income Americans; to assess and improve our grantees’ operations; and to equip our grantees with tools and resources to better evaluate, improve, and expand the services they provide to their client communities. These systems include LSC’s Case Services Report (CSR) system, periodic surveys of grantees, evaluation of Census Bureau data, onsite assessments of grantees, and administration of the grants competition and renewal process.
In 2012, LSC received a grant of $276,000 from the Public Welfare Foundation (PWF) to improve LSC’s data collection and reporting mechanisms and to educate LSC grantees about collection, analysis, and use of data. This data collection and analysis project has three major objectives:
- Develop and implement an improved system for collecting and analyzing data from LSC grantees, so that LSC can obtain a fuller picture of grantees’ operations, accomplishments, and limitations.
- Develop tools and resources that enhance LSC grantees’ ability to collect and use data to design, assess, and improve their delivery strategies and program operations, and to measure the effect of the services they provide clients throughout the country.
- Provide training and technical assistance that fosters LSC grantees’ effective use of the tools and resources developed.
Working with a data collection consulting firm and an advisory committee of legal aid directors, LSC staff, and others, this project has produced a toolkit that grantees can use to measure outcomes and performance. The toolkit will be supplemented with online training on how to measure outcomes. The training, like the toolkit, is privately funded.
LSC-Funded Services Restored in American Samoa
For the first time since 2007, American Samoa has an LSC-funded program. LSC awarded a 2015 grant to American Samoa Legal Aid (ASLA) in the amount of $222,417. ASLA has a fully operational board of directors, an executive director, and two staff attorneys. The program expects to complete more than 200 cases in its first year of operations, and will prioritize family law and guardianship of minors.
LSC will continue to work with our grantees to maximize their efficiency, effectiveness, and quality; to promote innovation in the delivery of legal services; and to serve as many constituents as possible. Enhanced oversight and additional training will help ensure that LSC funds are well managed and efficiently spent to provide civil legal assistance to clients. Increased funding will help meet the critical needs of grantees and the low-income clients they serve and enable LSC to achieve high standards of fiscal responsibility.
Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program
|Budget item||FY 2016 Actual||FY 2017 Request||% of Overall Request|
|Loan Repayment Assistance Program||$1,000,000||$1,000,000||.2%|
LSC requests $1 million for the Herbert S. Garten Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) for FY 2017, the same amount appropriated annually since FY 2009.
Started as a pilot program in 2005, LRAP has enabled LSC grantees to recruit and retain high-quality attorneys. Past evaluations of the program show that large law school loan debts for legal aid attorneys, coupled with low salaries, constitute major barriers for grantees in hiring and retaining talented lawyers. The evaluations found that LRAP mitigates the economic hardships confronting grantee attorneys and bolsters their ability and willingness to remain with legal aid organizations.
To qualify for LSC’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program, an attorney must:
- Be a full-time employee of an LSC grantee.
- Have tenure of no more than five years with the LSC-funded organization.
- Have at least $50,000 in qualifying law school debt.
- Have a total income (from all sources) of no more than $55,000 ($61,300 for employees of Alaska Legal Services Corporation).
- Have a net worth of no more than $35,000.
In 2015, LSC’s LRAP received 147 new applications from attorneys at 70 grantee offices in 35 states, the District of Columbia, and Micronesia. In 2015, LSC provided loan repayment assistance to 80 new applicants. The FY 2017 request for $1 million would permit LSC to assist 75 new attorneys for three years.
|Median Starting Salaries for Attorneys in 2014|
|Private Lawyers (Firm of 251 or More Attorneys)||$135,000|
|Other Public Interest Lawyers||$46,000|
|Civil Legal Aid Attorneys||$44,636|
Studies consistently show that civil legal aid lawyers are the lowest paid group in the entire legal profession, earning less than public defenders and other public interest lawyers. The gap between private sector and public interest lawyers’ salaries remains large. According to the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), entry-level legal aid lawyers earn a median salary of $44,636, while attorneys in public service organizations earn $46,000 and public defenders earn $50,400.56 In contrast, the median salary for first-year lawyers at private firms with 50 or fewer attorneys is $105,000, and higher for larger firms. NALP’s findings are consistent with LSC’s salary surveys, which show that in 2014 the starting salary for staff attorneys at LSC grantees averaged less than $45,000 a year and attorneys with 10-14 years of experience averaged less than $65,000.57 Among attorneys in public service, the median starting salary for civil legal aid lawyers is approximately $6,000 less than both public defenders ($50,400) and local prosecutors ($51,141).
Office of Inspector General
|Budget item||FY 2016 Actual||FY 2017 Request||% of Overall Request|
|Office of Inspector General||$5,000,000||$5,200,000||1%|
For FY 2017, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is requesting $5.2 million, an increase of $200,000 over the FY 2016 appropriation, to continue its activities to provide congressionally mandated oversight of federal funds appropriated to LSC. The OIG contributes to LSC’s mission success by providing decision-makers objective reports and analysis to increase transparency and enhance proper governance, accountability, and oversight in LSC and grant recipient programs and operations.
The OIG was established under the IG Act of 1978, as amended, as an independent office whose mission is to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse, to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in LSC and grantee operations, and to help ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The professional work of the OIG follows the standards of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) and other governmental and professional organizations. The OIG conducts audits, investigations, and special reviews, as well as a variety of fraud prevention and outreach efforts to protect and maximize Federal taxpayer dollars invested in civil legal aid. In FY 2016, LSC received $385,000,000 in direct federal funding.
The requested increment of $200,000 will enable the OIG to maintain and bolster its record of recent accomplishments to help improve the integrity and accountability of LSC and its grantee programs and operations. In FY 2015 the OIG:
- Issued 115 formal recommendations for program and operational improvements to LSC and LSC grantees. The OIG performed 12 audits, including 11 audits of the adequacy of grantees’ financial internal controls spanning over $44.9 million in LSC grant funds. LSC management decisions sustained OIG questioned costs of more than $288,000. The Corporation’s 2014 financial statement audit was issued with no significant deficiencies.
- Closed 35 investigations involving matters such as theft of client funds, fraud and unreasonable expenditures of LSC funds, conflicts of interest, unauthorized outside practice of law, and time and attendance abuse. Cases arising from OIG investigations resulted in referral of two criminal cases to prosecutorial authorities; sustained questioned costs from prior referrals of $139,000; new questioned cost referrals of $72,000, and restitution to grantees of $54,000.
- Delivered a Capstone Report to LSC presenting a summary of significant findings and recommendations to LSC management on deficiencies in sub-grantee compliance with LSC regulations.
- Conducted an active educational outreach and fraud prevention program, conducting 19 Fraud Awareness Briefings, Eight Fraud Vulnerability Assessments, and Three Regulatory Vulnerability Assessments. The OIG also produced LSC and grantee advisories on the need for Prompt Reporting of Potential Fraud Indicators to the OIG and for effective Conflict of Interest Policies in preventing and minimizing fraud, waste and abuse.
- In 2015, the OIG received the CIGIE Award for Excellence for the OIG’s Fraud Prevention Program, which included completing and distributing a Fraud Prevention Guide and educating grantee employees at all LSC grantee programs.
Since 1996, LSC’s annual Congressional appropriations have directed that grantee compliance with legal requirements be monitored through the annual grantee audits conducted by independent public accountants (IPAs) under the guidance of the OIG. The OIG reviewed all grant recipient audit reports and referred significant fiscal and compliance findings to LSC management for corrective action. Further, as the OIG is tasked with ensuring the quality of audits of LSC and its grantees, the OIG instituted a Quality Control Review (QCR) program, designed to assess all grantee IPAs’ work over a four-year cycle. This program has enabled the OIG to identify deficiencies in IPA work, leading to the debarment of two IPAs for inadequate work; improve IPAs’ compliance with applicable standards and OIG guidance; and improve the overall effectiveness and quality of LSC grantee audits.
The OIG also recommended revisions and updates to LSC regulations, policies, and practices to identify opportunities for improvements in LSC operations and policies in FY 2015, including:
- Regulations on Recipient Fund Balances; Application of Federal Law to LSC Recipients; Use of Non-LSC Funds, Transfers of LSC Funds, Program Integrity; Subgrants and Membership Fees or Dues.
- Policies and Procedures on Grant Assurances; Access to Records; Data Breaches; and LSC Acquisition and Records Management.
The OIG’s efforts continue to directly contribute to improvements to LSC management’s policies and procedures for grant recipients and subrecipients. Overall, the work of the OIG helps ensure LSC and its grantees are functioning as responsible stewards of taxpayer funds, and reduces opportunities for fraud, waste, and abuse.
The OIG updated its Strategic Plan for 2015-2019, laying out our major goals, objectives and strategies for accomplishing the OIG mission at LSC. The Plan identified the following goals and objectives:
Goal 1: Promote LSC effectiveness by delivering high value OIG products as a trusted advisor that identifies areas for improvement and communicates those to stakeholders.
- Prevent and minimize fraud, waste. and abuse throughout the federally funded civil legal aid program.
- Promote economy and efficiency within LSC and its grant recipients.
- Deliver credible, relevant, and high-quality products.
- Foster open and effective communication and working relations.
Goal 2: Advance excellence in OIG performance by effectively managing and leveraging our human resources and information systems.
- Enhance OIG performance and management practices.
- Promote professionalism and talent.
- Strengthen information management and technology solutions.
The OIG also launched a new, more user-friendly website to allow for greater transparency of the OIG and its products. The office continues development of its internal information systems to better support OIG performance in the future. These and other achievements are reported in the OIG’s Semiannual Reports to Congress (https://www.oig.lsc.gov/products/sar).
FY 2017 Planned Activities
In FY 2017, guided by the new Strategic Plan, the OIG will use its continual risk assessments and annual work planning process to determine the allocation of available OIG resources. The OIG will perform its statutory requirements—including fraud prevention and detection, promoting economy and efficiency of LSC and grant recipients, and oversight of the grantee audit process. The OIG will give priority to reviews in the following OIG-identified LSC management challenge areas:
- Performance management and accountability.
- Grants management and procurement.
- Governance and control systems.
- Human capital management.
- Information technology management and security.
Resources will also be used to respond to requests from the Congress, the Board of Directors, LSC management, and other interested parties, as well as to advance improvements in internal OIG operations, including management, personnel, and information systems.
A major component of the FY 2017 budget request is funding the OIG’s operation of the LSC audit program. The OIG will continue to objectively audit LSC and grantee operations and review all LSC grant recipients’ annual audits, including financial statements, internal controls, and compliance with mandated restrictions and prohibitions. The OIG refers significant audit findings to LSC Management for resolution and tracks corrective actions. The OIG continues to fund and oversee the annual audit of LSC’s financial statements.
The OIG will conduct investigations of criminal and civil fraud committed against LSC and its grant recipients, and operates a national fraud, waste, and abuse reporting hotline. The OIG conducts compliance investigations, administrative inquiries, fraud and regulatory vulnerability assessments, and fraud prevention briefings.
Further, the OIG will continue to improve effectiveness and efficiency in grants management, administration, and operation of LSC and its grantees through its reviews and advisories, and will provide reviews and comments on significant legislative, regulatory, management, and policy initiatives affecting LSC.
If fully funded, this request will allow the OIG to perform further reviews of grant recipient operations and subrecipient oversight, and to continue the comprehensive audit quality control program. The OIG will expand reviews of client trust funds and continue its information technology security vulnerability reviews of LSC and grant recipient operations. Internally, the OIG will continue to promote its own effective operations by providing a market competitive compensation system to ensure the recruitment and retention of a highly skilled, high-performing OIG workforce, and maintaining and developing reliable and secure information management systems that facilitate the efficient production and timely delivery of OIG work.
The request includes $60,000 to satisfy foreseeable OIG professional training requirements required to maintain the OIG professional credentials for FY 2016. The OIG also anticipates contributing $15,000 to meet our obligations to support the operations of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
The submitted budget request is necessary for the LSC OIG to adequately perform the legislative missions required by the Inspector General Act, as amended, and to provide objective, relevant, and timely reporting to the Congress and LSC on core management challenges and oversight issues, thereby increasing public confidence in the proper expenditure of limited LSC funds. This funding amount is critical to ensure OIG appropriations are in line with expenses, thereby maintaining stability in OIG planning, workforce, and operations.
The OIG greatly appreciates the continuing support of the Congress and the LSC Board as it carries out its mandated mission.
Alabama is the nation’s sixth poorest state. Legal Services Alabama (LSA) is a statewide program with eight offices. Because residents continue to be affected by natural and man-made disasters, LSA has been a leader in disaster recovery efforts through disaster recovery centers, hotlines, and emergency management agencies.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $6,174,026 (3% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 80%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1.2 million - 25% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 40,493
- Cases Closed (2014): 16,214
Alaska Legal Services (ALS) is a statewide program with 11 offices, serving more than 650,000 square miles. Only four offices are connected to a road system; other offices can be reached only by boat, plane, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle. The program is committed to providing rural services. Alaska Natives and Native Americans are 13% of the total population.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $1,297,194 (8% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 34%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 108,655 - 15% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 3,705
- Cases Closed (2014): 1,515
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $187,566 pro bono grant to develop a free online training program for pro bono attorneys; $104,629 technology grant to develop online learning tools
LSC funds three legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. The client eligible population is very diverse, including 11 different Native American tribes and a large immigrant population for whom English is a second language. Predatory lending and housing issues are a major focus of the programs.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $11,516,865 (5% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 71%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1.6 million - 24% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 31,605
- Cases Closed (2014): 12,998
- LSC-Funded Grantees: Community Legal Services, DNA-Peoples Legal Services, Southern Arizona Legal Aid
LSC funds two legal aid organizations that serve the entire state with 16 offices. Leaders in engaging and partnering with other businesses in the community, these organizations have partnered with the Clinton School of Public Service to assess client needs and created an innovative medical-legal partnership with Walmart.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $3,628,391 (1% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 49%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 722,250 - 25% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 24,737
- Cases Closed (2014): 9,765
- LSC Grantees: Center for Arkansas Legal Services, Legal Aid of Arkansas
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $42,315 technology grant to develop automated content management systems
California is the third largest state with a mixed geography of desert, mountains, coastlines, and valleys and diverse populations. LSC funds 11 local legal aid organizations that serve the entire state.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $43,598,181 (8% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 40%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 8.2 million—22% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 243,613
- Cases Closed (2014): 85,619
- LSC Grantees: Bay Area Legal Aid, California Indian Legal Services, California Rural Legal Assistance, Central California Legal Services, Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, Inland Counties Legal Services, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Legal Aid Society of San Diego, Legal Services of Northern California, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $280,111 pro bono grant to streamline and automate pro bono case placement processing; $152,200 technology grant to Orange County to develop online dispute resolution and mediation resource
Colorado Legal Services (CLS) is a statewide program with 14 offices. CLS’s main office is located just outside of downtown Denver and includes specialty units in consumer affairs, families and children, housing and homelessness, healthcare, and seniors.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $4,400,976 (5% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 40%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 854,665 - 16% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 15,444
- Cases Closed (2014): 7,711
Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut is the sole LSC grantee in Connecticut. The program prioritizes easy access to legal information and has created a wide range of online tools, including an online library of instructional training videos for pro bono attorneys and interactive simulations for self-represented litigants.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $2,555,098 (4% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 87%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 484,100 - 14% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 17,706
- Cases Closed (2014): 7,154
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $66,369 technology grant to support multi-state online resources for family law matters
Legal Services Corporation of Delaware (LSCD) serves the entire state. Because of partnerships with other organizations, LSCD is able to focus on the needs of their clients and specialize in housing, consumer, bankruptcy, and foreclosure cases. LSCD also created a mortgage foreclosure mediation program in collaboration with other organizations.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $774,186 (8% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 44%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 143,860 - 16% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 3,544
- Cases Closed (2014): 1,287
District of Columbia
Neighborhood Legal Services Program of the District of Columbia (NLSP) serves the entire District with three offices that are located in the most underserved areas of the city. A hallmark of the program has been its outstanding pro bono initiative and its partnership with the law firm of Covington & Burling. Covington & Burling provides two volunteer attorneys, a paralegal, and a support staff person on six-month rotations.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $754,782 (.04% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 47%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 130,515 - 21% of population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 2,128
- Cases Closed (2014): 849
LSC funds seven legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. Due to the diverse population, the programs offer services in several languages, including English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole; and access through telephone hotlines.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $21,904,578 (6% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 52%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 4.3 million - 22% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 91,765
- Cases Closed (2014): 36,252
- LSC Grantees: Bay Area Legal Services, Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida, Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Florida Rural Legal Services, Legal Services of Greater Miami, Legal Services of North Florida, Three Rivers Legal Services
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $144,839 technology grants to develop videoconferencing system and enhanced call center
Georgia is served by two programs through 13 offices. A mostly rural state, the programs ensure they reach every demographic through many specialty units including one for Spanish speakers, one for people with disabilities, and a child support helpline.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $12,262,919 (4% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 52%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 2.3 million - 23% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 45,241
- Cases Closed (2014): 18,133
- LSC Grantees: Georgia Legal Services Program, Atlanta Legal Aid Society
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $197,813 pro bono grant to create a learning lab for recent law graduates to volunteer for legal services; $52,200 technology grant to develop new online intake system
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii (LASH) is a statewide program serving mostly rural communities across six islands. In response to the homeless crisis, which became a declared state of emergency in 2015, the program has developed multiple initiatives including extensive trainings to social service providers and interactive form interviews.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $1,520,220 (5% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 17%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 209,440 - 15% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 12,054
- Cases Closed (2014): 6,011
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $140,669 technology grant to expand mobile resources and create statewide online resource for pro se litigants
Idaho Legal Aid Services (ILAS) is a statewide program with seven offices and two satellite offices that permit staff to serve clients on a regular schedule in temporary locations such as the courts and community organizations. Idaho has a growing population, particularly those with limited English proficiency. The program serves the state’s mainly rural population through multiple hotlines and works in collaboration with the Idaho Supreme Court to implement technology to access the courts.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $1,689,932 (1% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 65%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 338,550 - 21% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 5,931
- Cases Closed (2014): 2,489
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $276,000 pro bono grant to develop website that has broad range of statewide pro bono opportunities; $84,306 technology grant to enhance program’s website
There are three LSC-funded grantees servicing a community that is a mix of both densely populated and very rural areas. These programs work together through a statewide online intake system to ensure easy access to justice for all constituents, both urban and rural.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $12,307,702 (1% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 35%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 2.4 million - 19% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 72,403
- Cases Closed (2014): 32,039
- LSC Grantees: Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago), Prairie State Legal Services
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $239,207 pro bono grant to develop a system for volunteer lawyers to help low-income seniors; $70,750 technology grant to integrate text messaging into the statewide website
Indiana has significant concentrations of poverty, including two cities that are among the ten highest poverty areas in the country. Indiana Legal Services (ILS) serves the entire state through nine offices. ILS provides services with specialized units for seniors, veterans, and migrant farmworkers.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $6,644,594 (.4% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 71%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1.3 million - 20% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 18,557
- Cases Closed (2014): 8,725
Iowa Legal Aid (ILA) serves the entire state which is primarily rural and small-town, with some larger cities. It has a significant senior population with almost 15% of constituents aged 65 and older. ILA is committed to assessing and meeting the needs of constituents through pro se clinics, by utilizing volunteer attorneys, and through collaboration with the University of Iowa.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $2,508,655 (1% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 30%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 500,835 - 17% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 37,421
- Cases Closed (2014): 15,273
Kansas Legal Services (KLS) is a statewide program with 11 offices. The state has the second highest number of re-deployments of service men and women in the nation. KLS has programs to combat the high poverty rates of post-deployment service members including the “Serving Our Troops” attorney volunteer program.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $2,610,245 (1% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 52%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 504,925 - 18% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 25,734
- Cases Closed (2014): 10,963
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $122,200 technology grant to enhance program’s website
LSC funds four local legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. Kentucky is a mostly rural state where transportation is not always easily accessible. The programs help reach constituents through websites and tools for both clients and pro bono attorneys.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $5,532,299 (1% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 35%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1 million - 25% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 57,879
- Cases Closed (2014): 16,844
- LSC Grantees: Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, Kentucky Legal Aid, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass, Legal Aid Society
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $333,982 pro bono grant to create a statewide program and hotline for veterans
For three decades Louisiana has ranked fourth for the percentage of persons living below the poverty line. LSC funds three legal aid organizations in Louisiana. In response to the high poverty levels and several natural and man-made disasters, the grantees have developed strategic partnerships throughout the state, concentrating on areas such as homeownership, college debt, and medical-legal partnerships.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $6,086,417 (6% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 53%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1.1 million - 25% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 37,148
- Cases Closed (2014): 14,083
- LSC Grantees: Acadiana Legal Service, Legal Services of North Louisiana, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $290,520 pro bono grant to launch a medical-legal partnership
Pine Tree Legal Assistance (PTLA) is a statewide program with six offices. PTLA has been a national leader in the effort to use websites and other technologies to reach clients, such as its creation of statesidelegal.org for veterans. The program has also been a prominent force in addressing the foreclosure crisis by recruiting private attorneys.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $1,367,487 (6% difference from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 20%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 241,610 - 19% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 14,318
- Cases Closed (2014): 4,776
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $97,720 technology grant to expand veterans legal assistance website
Maryland Legal Aid Bureau (MLAB) is a statewide program with 15 offices. MLAB is headquartered in Baltimore City and serves Maryland’s 23 counties from 12 offices and three District Court Self-Help Centers. In 2014, MLAB worked on 500 foreclosure cases, an 82% increase from the prior year. MLAB served nearly 5,000 children in abuse and neglect cases in circuit courts in twelve jurisdictions in 2014.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $4,022,823 (5% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 16%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 781,605 - 13% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 13,358
- Cases Closed (2014): 5,600
LSC funds four legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. Massachusetts has a diverse clientele, including many immigrants and non-English speakers. In some areas the number of foreign-born individuals is over 25%. To reach as many constituents as possible, the organizations have programs and/or staff who speak Spanish, the most common language after English.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $5,147,586 (4% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 28%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 978,815 - 15% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 25,100
- Cases Closed (2014): 11,179
- LSC Grantees: Community Legal Aid, Northeast Legal Aid, South Coastal Counties Legal Services, Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $209,524 pro bono grant to develop medical-legal partnership with UMass Memorial Medical Center; $192,900 technology grants to enhance intake systems and develop new mobile resources
Michigan was hit harder than most states in the recession. LSC funds six legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. Michigan serves a mix of both rural and urban populations, and focuses on telephone hotlines and websites that allow easy and efficient access for clients.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $10,869,432 (5% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 46%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 2 million - 21% of Michigan
- Constituents Helped (2014): 65,224
- Cases Closed (2014): 26,513
- LSC Grantees: Legal Aid and Defender Association, Legal Aid of Western Michigan, Legal Services of Eastern Michigan, Legal Services of Northern Michigan, Michigan Advocacy Program, Michigan Indian Legal Services
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $187,400 technology grant to develop statewide online triage and enhance online management tools
LSC funds five legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. Minnesota has a mixed demographic, including areas with high concentrations of elderly constituents, immigrants, and Native Americans.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $4,415,454 (1% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 29%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 788,480 - 15% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 44,554
- Cases Closed (2014): 17,071
- LSC Grantees: Anishinabe Legal Services, Central Minnesota Legal Services, Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota, Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota Corporation, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $47,640 technology grant to enhance program’s statewide website
Two LSC-funded programs serve the entire state. North Mississippi Rural legal Services’ service area includes nearly half of the state’s 82 counties. Mississippi Center for Legal Services works with the other half of the state’s counties, which contain 60% of the state’s poverty population.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $4,276,827 (5% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 72%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 812,860 - 28% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 22,839
- Cases Closed (2014): 8,193
- LSC Grantees: Mississippi Center for Legal Services, North Mississippi Rural Legal Services
Missouri funds four legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. The programs’ priorities include: domestic violence prevention; maintaining and securing safe, affordable and livable housing; and securing Medicaid, SSI and other public benefits.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $6,197,216 (1% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 26%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1.2 million - 20% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 33,119
- Cases Closed (2014): 12,756
- LSC Grantees: Legal Aid of Western Missouri, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Legal Services of Southern Missouri, Mid-Missouri Legal Services Corporation
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $417,441 pro bono grants to provide free business legal assistance and education to low-income minority and women entrepreneurs and conduct a needs assessment in five communities in the western part of state
Montana is the fourth largest state with 145,545 square miles. Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) is a statewide program with three offices. In partnerships with other organizations, MLSA provides legal services to the seven Indian reservations and has volunteers across the state at court self-help centers.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $1,213,772 (4% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 43%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 208,150 - 21% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 3,774
- Cases Closed (2014): 1,557
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $124,000 technology grant to enhance program’s statewide website and management system
Legal Aid of Nebraska is a statewide program with eight offices. By staffing its offices proportionately to the poverty population in each area, it is able to reach as many people as possible in addition to holding monthly office hours on several Indian reservations.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $1,584,341 (1% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 25%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 310,540 - 17% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 18,993
- Cases Closed (2014): 9,817
Nevada Legal Services is a statewide program with three offices. The main office in Las Vegas serves 73% of the state’s population. To meet the needs of homeowners facing foreclosure, the program created a specialized unit in collaboration with the attorney general.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $3,047,217 (8% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 65%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 577,340 - 21% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 13,856
- Cases Closed (2014): 3,984
Legal Advice & Referral Center (LARC) is a statewide program with one office. To ensure access to justice for the entire state, LARC works with two other non-LSC funded programs to create a comprehensive statewide network of legal aid.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $794,504 (7% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 84%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 157,155 - 12% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 5,775
- Cases Closed (2014): 2,234
LSC funds five legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, LSC awarded disaster relief grants to three grantees in 2013.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $6,635,633 (11% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 25%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1.3 million - 15% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 50,217
- Cases Closed (2014): 21,210
- LSC Grantees: Central Jersey Legal Services, Essex-Newark Legal Services Project, Legal Services of Northwest Jersey, Northeast New Jersey Legal Services, South Jersey Legal Services
New Mexico is the fifth largest state and one of the most sparsely populated. New Mexico Legal Aid (NMLA) is a statewide program with 11 offices. NMLA works with both state and veteran organizations to develop and promote pro bono work in each judicial district.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $3,475,916 (4% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 55%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 564,145—28% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 9,119
- Cases Closed (2014): 3,219
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $272,718 pro bono grant to connect rural and single-parent households in rural areas to attorneys in urban areas via videoconferencing; $262,393 technology grants to create a “pitch portal” website to provide virtual workspaces and improve data sharing
LSC funds seven local legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. Throughout the state affordable housing remains a chronic issue. These programs remain at the forefront of securing and stabilizing housing for constituents with initiatives such as the Solutions to End Homelessness.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $20,890,565 (5% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 23%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 4 million—20% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 113,096
- Cases Closed (2014): 48,993
- LSC Grantees: Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York, Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, Legal Assistance of Western New York, Legal Services NYC, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Committee, Neighborhood Legal Services
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $709,297 pro bono grant to expand service to people in rural areas and create a national database of information on predatory for-profit schools in partnership with probono.net; $250,680 technology grants to improve online resources and create one-stop online services for consumer issues
Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC) is a statewide program with 21 offices. The service area is a mix of urban and rural, including eastern farmlands, western mountains, and a national forest. LANC meets diverse client needs with partnerships, including their Lawyer on the Line program which works with law schools to utilize law students throughout the state.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $11,605,563 (2% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 49%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 2.2 million—23% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 49,680
- Cases Closed (2014): 21,383
Legal Services of North Dakota (LSND) is a statewide program with a staff of 21 in four offices. LSND serves 53 counties and three Indian reservations.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $838,080 (1% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 33%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 107,770 - 15% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 9,165
- Cases Closed (2014): 3,754
LSC funds five legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. Several of the programs have headed initiatives aiding veterans in addition to addressing bankruptcy and domestic violence.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $12,179,820 (2% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 34%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 2.3 million—20% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 58,526
- Cases Closed (2014): 24,101
- LSC Grantees: Community Legal Aid Services, Legal Aid of Western Ohio, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio State Legal Services
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $214,566 pro bono grants to provide mentorship and an introduction to pro bono to law students and recent grads; $911,834 technology grant to improve mobile technologies and enhance national online document assembly services
Oklahoma has the second largest Native American population in the United States. LSC funds two legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. Following tornadoes that hit in 2013, these grantees led a recovery program to provide needed legal aid as a key part of the disaster relief efforts.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $5,096,816 (.004% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 35%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 825,230—22% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 14,344
- Cases Closed (2014): 7,013
- LSC Grantees: Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Indian Legal Services
Legal Aid Services of Oregon (LASO) serves a mix of densely populated urban areas and isolated ural communities throughout the state. The program uses comprehensive service centers that can also be reached via remote video technology.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $4,585,248 (6% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 55%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 847,830—22% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 12,851
- Cases Closed (2014): 5,306
LSC funds eight legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. The programs reach both rural and urban constituents through hotlines, community partnerships, and online resources.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $11,473,400 (1% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 35%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 2.2 million - 18% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 90,010
- Cases Closed (2014): 40,134
- LSC Grantees: Laurel Legal Services, Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, MidPenn Legal Services, Neighborhood Legal Services Association, North Penn Legal Services, Northwestern Legal Services, Philadelphia Legal Assistance Center, Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Services
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $62,200 technology grant to improve delivering legal information through mobile technologies
Rhode Island has the third highest unemployment rate in the country. Rhode Island Legal Services (RILS) serves the entire state and is the only full service law firm for low-income constituents. RILS benefits from a close relationship with the court system and the state bar and works to fight predatory lending and foreclosures.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $991,206 (4% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 25%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 188,565 - 19% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 9,840
- Cases Closed (2014): 4,884
South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS) is a statewide program. SCLS prioritizes easy access, which is why the program has intake procedures by phone, online, and in person. In addition, Spanish-speaking staff conduct education and outreach in communities.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $5,755,483 (1% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 59%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1.1 million - 24% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 15,527
- Cases Closed (2014): 7,008
LSC funds two local legal aid organizations in the state. South Dakota has a significant percentage of Native Americans. The programs have offices throughout the state and on reservations.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $1,757,027 (3% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 78%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 148,685 - 18% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 5,689
- Cases Closed (2014): 1,679
- LSC Grantees: Dakota Plains Legal Services, East River Legal Services
LSC funds four local legal aid organizations in the mostly rural state. The programs ensure a local presence in their communities through development of regular legal clinics, dispersed staff, and partnerships with local organizations and businesses.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $7,923,718 (4% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 42%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1.5 million—24% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 31,442
- Cases Closed (2014): 14,841
- LSC Grantees: Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Memphis Area Legal Services, West Tennessee Legal Services
LSC funds three local legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. These programs serve a diverse population including a large Hispanic/Latino population and the second largest Vietnamese community in the country. To reach their clients, the programs conduct outreach and services at family crisis centers, hospitals, shelters, and clinics.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $31,196,205 (1% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 54%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 6 million - 23% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 131,173
- Cases Closed (2014): 53,540
- LSC Grantees: Legal Aid of Northwest Texas, Lone Star Legal Aid, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $130,438 technology grant to create online court forms to assist self-help litigants
Utah Legal Services (ULS) is a statewide program. Almost 14% of constituents live in areas with less than one person per square mile and more than 50 miles from a ULS office. ULS provides services with specialized legal units and collaborations with other organizations.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $2,402,861 (4% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 56%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 461,655—16% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 11,331
- Cases Closed (2014): 5,490
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $77,200 technology grant to improve case management system
Legal Services Law Line of Vermont (Law Line) is a statewide program with one office. Law Line partners with other legal aid organizations and initiatives in the state to ensure that the program is able to serve as many constituents as possible.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $490,600 (1% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 90%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 96,765 - 16% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 3,773
- Cases Closed (2014): 1,731
LSC funds six local legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. A major focus throughout the mostly rural state is family law, including divorce and custody cases. The programs engage, train, and match pro bono attorneys with clients across the state.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $6,502,565 (8% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 33%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1.2 million—16% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 55,348
- Cases Closed (2014): 22,690
- LSC Grantees: Blue Ridge Legal Services, Central Virginia Legal Aid Society, Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia, Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society, Virginia Legal Aid Society
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $171,255 pro bono grant to engage judiciary to encourage more pro bono among attorneys; $229,400 technology grants to create mobile-friendly web-based apps to access court forms
Northwest Justice Project (NJP) is the largest provider of civil legal services in the state. In addition to the program’s 17 offices, statewide phone hotline, and self-help online resources, NJP helps support 24 legal aid and volunteer attorney programs to provide cohesive legal aid across the state.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $6,524,206 (2% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 29%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1.2 million—17% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 28,369
- Cases Closed (2014): 12,754
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $505,660 technology grant to create legal education videos and improve its national online resource portal
West Virginia is a rural region with many areas lacking adequate public transportation. Legal Aid of West Virginia (LAWV) is a statewide program. In order to reach clients, LAWV uses an integrated service delivery system that includes specialty units such as migrant service delivery, family law, and domestic violence.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $2,235,497 (1% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 28%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 424,220—24% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 19,937
- Cases Closed (2014): 7,047
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $90,600 technology grant to create online training toolkits to assist pro bono lawyers
LSC funds two local legal aid organizations that serve the entire state. These programs have developed and operate multiple initiatives that aid both their rural and urban clients.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $5,194,827 (1% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 46%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 957,355—17% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 15,747
- Cases Closed (2014): 7,187
- LSC Grantees: Legal Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Judicare
- Other LSC Funds (FY15): $53,435 technology grant to create online intake system
Wyoming is the 10th largest state with the second lowest population density. Legal Aid of Wyoming is a statewide program with six offices. Committed to reaching even the most remote constituents, the program collaborates with the state supreme court and other organizations to expand access to justice.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $612,667 (4% increase from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 55%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 90,610—16% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 11,221
- Cases Closed (2014): 3,050
For the first time since 2007, American Samoa has an LSC-funded program. LSC awarded a 2015 grant to American Samoa Legal Aid (ASLA) in the amount of $222,417. ASLA has a fully operational Board of Directors, an Executive Director, and two staff attorneys. The program expects to complete more than 200 cases by the end of the year and will prioritize cases in the area of family law, guardianship of minors, and immigration. Data on the grantee’s first year of operation will not be available until spring of 2016.
Guam Legal Services Corporation serves the U.S. territory of Guam, which is approximately three times the size of the District of Columbia and nestled between the Philippines and Japan in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. The small office caters to low-income residents of the rural island assisting primarily with protective and restraining orders, domestic relations, guardianship, and education.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $244,499 (2% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 24%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 45,785—29% of population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 1,017
- Cases Closed (2014): 216
Micronesian Legal Service Corporation (MLSC) serves the Federated States of Micronesia, a combination of sovereign nations to which the United States provides financial assistance. The territory of the Federated States of Micronesia spans approximately the distance of the continental United States and four time zones and contains more than 2,000 small islands, with 220 of those islands inhabited. MLSC, the sole legal services provider in the area, mostly serves clients who live in rural areas who largely do not speak English and work as farmers or fishermen.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $1,226,169 (2% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 61%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 32,885—62% of population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 21,913
- Cases Closed (2014): 6,545
LSC funds two legal aid organizations in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Legal Services, the predominant program, has 17 direct service offices throughout the island. The program utilizes a collaborative approach to advocacy, focusing on impact issues for impoverished communities in collaboration with community groups.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $11,079,440 (5% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 59%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 1,927,555—55% of state population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 75,566
- Cases Closed (2014): 25,664
- LSC Grantees: Community Law Office Corporation, Puerto Rico Legal Services
Founded in 1969, Legal Services of the Virgin Islands (LSVI) is the only civil legal aid organization on the islands, which has a combined land mass of 133 square miles of mostly rural territory. Located on the islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas, LSVI provides a full range of legal services throughout the service area.
- FY16 Basic Field Grant: $161,119 (2% decrease from prior year)
- Reliance on LSC Funds: 11%
- People Eligible for LSC Services: 29,871—28% of population
- Constituents Helped (2014): 2,442
- Cases Closed (2014): 940
*Correction. This updates the previous edition that misstated Lee’s veterans status.
- 1. Basic field funding adjusted for inflation in 2015 dollars: United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, CPI Inflation Calculator (www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm); Eligible persons 2007-2013: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements, Table 6. People Below 125 Percent of Poverty Level and the Near Poor: 1959 to 2011 (for persons below 125% poverty 1994-2011). LSC Projections for 2014 client eligible populations using LSC estimates based on: Monea and Sawhill, Simulating the Effect of the “Great Recession” on Poverty (www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2009/09/10-poverty-monea-sawhill). Unemployment: CBO, CBO’s Baseline Economic Forecast - February 2015 Baseline Projections, (www.cbo.gov/publication/43902).; Total Population: US Census, 2014 National Population Projections - Table 1; Poverty Population, U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements.
- 2. U.S. Census Bureau, 2007-2013 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table S1701: Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months; Emily Monea and Isabel Sawhill, An Update to “Simulating the Effect of the ‘Great Recession’ on Poverty,” Brookings Institution, September 13, 2011, Figure A. U.S. Census Bureau 2014 National Population Projections: Summary Tables, Middle Series.
- 3. . Documenting the Justice Gap In America The Current Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans, September 2005. An Updated Report of the Legal Services Corporation, September 2009.
- 4. Investing in Justice, A Roadmap to Cost-Effective Funding of Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts. A Report of the Boston Bar Association Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts, October 2014.
- 5. Documenting the Justice Gap in Michigan, State Bar of Michigan in Collaboration with Michigan’s Legal Services Corporation Funded Providers, Spring 2012 (Updated Spring 2015). http://www.michbar.org/file/programs/atj/pdfs/JusticeGap.pdf
- 6. Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice Interim Report, October 1, 2015. http://devlamp2.flabar.org/wordpress/flaccesstojustice/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2015/10/Florida-Commission-ATJ-Interim-Report.pdf
- 7. Civil Legal Needs Study Update, Civil Legal Needs Study Update Committee, Washington State Supreme Court, October 2015. http://ocla.wa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/CivilLegalNeedsStudy_October2015_V21_Final10_14_15.pdf
- 8. Online report went live in February 2014 at http://www.justiceindex.org/.
- 9. Scott Bales, Chief Justice, Arizona Supreme Court. LSC Board of Directors Meeting San Francisco, CA. Judicial Panel: The Importance of Access to Justice to the Judiciary, October 15, 2015.
- 10. Jorge Labarga, Chief Justice, Florida Supreme Court. LSC April 2015 Senate Briefing – Litigants Without Lawyers: Equal Justice Under Threat in State Courts, Washington, DC. April 15, 2015.
- 11. Mark Recktenwald, Chief Justice, Hawaii Supreme Court, LSC Board of Directors Meeting, San Francisco, CA. Judicial Panel: The Importance of Access to Justice to the Judiciary, October 15, 2015.
- 12. Lorie Skjerven Gildea, Chief Justice, Minnesota Supreme Court. LSC Board of Directors Meeting, Minneapolis, MN. Judicial Panel: The Importance of Access to Justice to the Judiciary, July 17, 2015.
- 13. The Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York, Report to the Chief Judge of the State of New York, State of New York Unified Court System, November 2014.
- 14. Fern Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, NYC Courts. LSC Board of Directors Meeting, Albany, New York. Judicial Initiatives to Improve Access to Justice, October 6, 2014.
- 15. The Importance of Funding for the Legal Services Corporation from the Perspective of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators, Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators, 2013. http://ccj.ncsc.org/~/media/Microsites/Files/CCJ/Web%20Documents/LSC_WHTPR.ashx.
- 16. Id.
- 17. Conference of Chief Justices Conference of State Court Administrators, Resolution 7, “Reaffirming the Critical Importance of Adequate Funding of the Legal Services Corporation.” Adopted as proposed by the CCJ/COSCA Access, Fairness and Public Trust Committee at the 2015 Annual Meeting.
- 18. Id. at page 4.
- 19. Investing in Justice: A Roadmap to Cost-Effective Funding of Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts, Boston Bar Association Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts, October 2014. http://www.bostonbar.org/docs/default-document-library/statewide-task-force-to-expand-civil-legal-aid-in-ma---investing-in-justice.pdf
- 20. Services for Self-Represented Litigants in Arkansas, A report to the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, July 26, 2013. www.arkansasjustice.org/sites/default/files/file%20attachments/Arkansas%20Final%20Report%207-26-13.pdf
- 21. 21: - Id
- 22. The studies cited use a range of methodologies to calculate savings and benefits including shelter costs, domestic violence impacts, state services, and federal benefits. The variation in methodology makes comparing summary statistics, such as return on investment, difficult. LSC uses relevant portions of the studies that can be understood independently. The PA IOLTA Board testimony in Appendix 3 includes the study: The Economic Impact of Outcomes Obtained for Legal Aid Clients Benefits Everyone in Pennsylvania in its entirety.
- 23. U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table S1701: Poverty Status in the Past 12 Months.
- 24. Calculated from U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table S1701, and unpublished data from the U.S. Census Bureau the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) provided to LSC by the Census Bureau.
- 25. Calculated from U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table S1701, and Table S1703: Selected Characteristics of People at Specified Levels of Poverty in the Past 12 Months.
- 26. U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table S1703.
- 27. Calculated from U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table S1701 and Table S2101: Veteran Status.
- 28. 28: U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table S1703.
- 29. National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) defines domestic violence as “rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault committed by intimate partners, immediate family members, or other relatives.” Domestic violence includes both “family violence” and “intimate partner violence” (IPV). Family violence includes “all types of violent crime committed by an offender who is related to the victim either biologically or legally through marriage or adoption,” while IPV “includes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression (including coercive tactics) by a current or former intimate partner.” U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Justice Statistics BLS), Family Violence Statistics: Including Statistics on Strangers and Acquaintances. 2005; DOJ, BLS, Nonfatal Domestic Violence, 2003–2012, April 2014; Breiding, M.J., Chen J., & Black, M.C., Intimate Partner Violence in the United States — 2010. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, 2014.
- 30. Supporting Survivors, The Economic Benefits of Providing Civil Legal Assistance to Survivors of Domestic Violence, Institute for Policy Integrity, July 2015.
- 31. Judy Hails Kaci, “Aftermath of Seeking Domestic Violence Protective Orders: The Victim’s Perspective,” 10 J. of Contemp. Crim. Just. 204 (1994). But see Andrew R. Klein, “Re-Abuse in a Population of Court-Restrained Male Batterers: Why Restraining Orders Don’t Work,” in Do Arrests and Restraining Orders Work? 192 (Eve S. Buzawa & Carl G. Buzawa, eds., 1996) (describing the results of a study Supporting Survivors: The Economic Benefits of Providing Civil Legal Assistance to Survivors of Domestic Violence.
- 32. Jane Murphy, “Engaging with the State: The Growing Reliance on Lawyers and Judges to Protect Battered Women,” 11 Am. U. J. Gender Soc. Pol’y & L. 499, 511-12 (2003).
- 33. National Center for Injury Prevention & Control, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States—2010 (2014), available at ttp://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/cdc_nisvs_ipv_ report_2013_v17_single_a.pdf. See also National Center for Injury Prevention & Control, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report (2011), available at http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_ report2010-a.pdf
- 34. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report (Atlanta, GA: 2011).
- 35. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States (Atlanta, GA: 2003).
- 36. LSC, 2014 Grant Activity Reports. Number of persons served calculated based on average number of persons in households of all closed cases.
- 37. Jana L. Jasinski; Jennifer K. Wesely; Elizabeth Mustaine; & James D. Wright, The Experience of Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women: A Research Report, Department of Justice Grant #2002WGBX0013, November 2005, p.2.
- 38. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD), Office of Community Planning and Development, 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, 2013, p.18.
- 39. The United States Conference of Mayors, A Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness in America’s Cities: 2013, A 25-City Survey, December 2013.
- 40. Patricia Tjaden, Nancy Thoennes, Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, July 2000, NCJ 181867.
- 41. Intimate Partner Violence in the United States — 2010, p.1; “Adverse Health Conditions and Health Risk Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. February 2008; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2003: Richard M. Tolman and Daniel Rosen, “Domestic Violence in the Lives of Women Receiving Welfare: Mental Health, Substance Dependence, and Economic Well Being in Violence Against Women,” Violence Against Women, Vol. 7, No. 2, February 2001, 141-158.
- 42. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, Annual Averages, Table 48. Employment status of persons 18 years and over by veteran status, age, and sex, 2014.
- 43. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community Planning and Development, The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, PART 1: Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, November 2015, p.50 and Exhibit 5.1: PIT Estimates of Homeless Veterans.
- 44. LSC, 2014 Grant Activity Reports. Number of persons served calculated based on average number of persons in households of all closed cases
- 45. Boston Bar Association Task Force on the Civil Right to Counsel, The Importance of Representation in Eviction Cases and Homelessness Prevention, Boston Bar Association, March 2012, p.15.
- 46. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Community Planning and Development, The 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, Part 1, Point-in-Time Estimates of Homelessness, October 2014, p.1.
- 47. National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, Human Right to Housing Report Card, 2014, p. 4.
- 48. National Center For Homeless Education, Federal Data Summary School Years 2011-12 to 2013-14. Education For Homeless Children And Youth, November 2015, Table 2.
- 49. National Alliance to End Homelessness, The State of Homelessness in America 2014, Table 2.1, “Economic and Household-Related Factors,” p. 41.
- 50. Calculated from U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Housing Survey for the United States, Tables C-08A-RO, S-07-RO, and S-08-RO.
- 51. Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, The State of the Nation’s Housing 2015, 2015, pp.31-32.
- 52. Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, The State of the Nation’s Housing 2015, 2015, p.9.
- 53. Cases handled from LSC, 2014 Grant Activity Reports (GAR). Estimate of persons assisted from 2013 LSC GAR data, with adjustments for smaller household size for households with seniors.
- 54. U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, Table S1703: Selected Characteristics of People at Specified Levels of Poverty in the Past 12 Months.
- 55. Estimate of persons served based on (1) LSC, 2014 Grant Activity Reports (GAR) data for cases related to Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability Insurance, Special Education/Learning Disabilities, Mental Health, and Disability Rights and (2) GAR data for average number of persons per household.
- 56. Public Sector and Public Interest Attorney Salary, Report by the National Association for Law Placement, June 2014.
- 57. Based on LSC, 2014 Grant Activity Reports.