Funding for civil legal aid is an investment in the stability of American democracy. If the United States cannot guarantee access to the legal process, the nation cannot expect the rule of law or the democratic institutions that depend on it to be respected. The American justice system belongs to and should serve all Americans, not just lawyers. America must educate all Americans about the challenges and involve them in the challenges posed by the equity gap. Legal Services Society, “How We Work,” www.lsc.gov/what-legal-aid/how-we-work. Legal aid providers have also innovated through litigation. For example, the Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation won a case that allowed a domestic violence victim to negotiate custody of the children in the state she moved to, rather than Louisiana, where her abuser sued her. This case established the right of victims of domestic violence to custody in a refugee state.7 The Legal Services Corporation is the largest funder in the United States for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The LSC funds legal aid programs that serve households with annual incomes equal to or less than 125% of federal poverty policy. Legal aid clients face a variety of civil law issues: evictions, mortgage foreclosures, domestic violence, wage theft, child custody and alimony, and denial of essential services. Most of the clients are women.
Many of them are seniors, veterans or people with disabilities. Assist legal aid organizations in the production and distribution of educational content. Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut has developed LearnTheLaw.org through which legal aid programs in any state can access resources for online courses to train volunteers on a specific legal issue, guide unrepresented litigants through often confusing legal processes, create training for pro bono attorneys, and address other training needs. A disabled veteran named Ronnie Pitcock, for example, was living with his twenty-year-old wife when his leg had to be amputated. When he recovered from the operation, Pitcock`s wife left him and took all his money. With no other choice, he moved to a homeless shelter and was referred to West Missouri Legal Aid Veterans Assistance Project. Because he was living on Social Security disability benefits, he could not afford his medical and other expenses. With the help of a lawyer, he was able to pay off his student loans due to his disability, get a divorce settlement, and terminate the power of attorney he had previously given his wife so he could protect his income in the future.
Supporting Military Members, Veterans and their families.StatesideLegal.org is a free resource for military personnel, veterans, their families and advocates. The site is operated by Pine Tree Legal Assistance and helps users access benefits, find free legal aid, and resolve their legal issues. Users can access an extensive library of original content, including interactive forms and instructional videos. Pro bono becomes more effective. All recipients are expected to modernize, digitize and streamline existing systems to support and communicate with volunteers. The initiative has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in simple, large-scale technological improvements that save many hours of volunteering, legal aid staff and client time. The LSC uses the metaphor of the “equity gap” to describe the gap between legal needs and available legal services. Widening the gap is at the heart of the organization`s mission. In June 2017, the LSC released a report entitled The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans. The report, produced by the LSC and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, found a significant equity gap for nearly 20 percent of Americans eligible for LSC-funded aid.
In any given year, this population receives little or no legal aid to resolve 86% of the civil law problems they face.3 The need is widespread: 71% of low-income households have at least one civil law problem per year, and about one-quarter of this population has six or more civil law problems per year.4 Creation of a national network of legal aid websites; Provide information on the location and services of legal aid offices, provide volunteer opportunities and specialized support to volunteer private lawyers representing legal aid clients, and provide a wide range of self-help resources for low-income individuals with civil law problems. Funding for the development of LawHelp Interactive, which uses technology to improve the process of creating legal forms and other materials for self-represented litigants. Used in more than forty states and the United States, LawHelp Interactive is available on many legal aid websites nationwide.10 Pro bono is always more focused on quality and impact than on manufacturing and volume. Almost 90% of Pro Bono Innovation Grant funding has been provided to staff, such as subject matter experts or dedicated staff with experience in both legal aid and law firms, who can ensure that volunteers are well trained, supported and provided with pro bono opportunities that match their experience. their skills and available time.