Legal Groups Brace for New Surge in Need for Legal Aid

After seeking $100 million in response to COVID-19 outbreak, Legal Services Corporation (LSC) finds some relief in the $50 million grant awarded as part of the COVID-19 stimulus package.

While economic activity is at a standstill, the need for civil legal aid is growing and will soon become overwhelming. This rise hits harder in places like New York where there are fewer than three civil legal aid lawyers for every 10,000 people who live under 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

COVID-19 hot spots such as California, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Louisiana and Ohio have fewer than one legal aid lawyer for every 20,000 people in poverty. As the situation worsens, there will be an increase in civil legal cases and the number of people who qualify for legal aid, putting an additional strain of legal services providers.

Another concern for these organizations is that individuals may use COVID-19 to create legal loopholes.

Executive Director of Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation Laura Tuggle reported that her organization is helping a parent who is being denied partial custody of a child. The other parent is reportedly using the state's shelter-in-place order as a reason not to follow the joint custody agreement.

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