Yesterday, 251 Chief Legal Officers and General Counsel from across the country joined a letter in support of an increase in funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the largest funder of civil legal aid programs in the U.S. The letter was part of a nationwide campaign to secure LSC funding for FY2019. A similar letter was submitted last week by more than 180 managing partners from law firms across the nation.
In each of the past two years, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued proposed spending bills that sought to defund LSC. Last year’s proposal resulted in a similarly robust response from the legal community. Earlier this month, Congress and the President approved a new spending package that increased LSC funding by $25 million for the remainder of FY2018. The bill allocated $410 million for LSC – the highest appropriation LSC has received since 2010. This was incredible news for legal aid in this country. However, the fate of LSC funding for FY2019 is still unknown.
As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the U.S., LSC is the cornerstone of ensuring access to justice in the U.S. It provides resources and financial support to legal aid organizations around the country that serve individuals and communities in need, as well as structure and resources for pro bono volunteers from law firms and legal departments.
Across the country and especially in rural areas, numerous legal aid organizations depend on LSC in order to provide critical legal services to low-income individuals and families who otherwise would have no other recourse. In addition, legal aid organizations are an indispensable bridge between the pro bono legal services of law firms, in-house legal departments, and the individuals they serve.
LSC and the legal aid organizations it supports are vital institutions that uphold this country’s commitment to equality and justice. LSC has always enjoyed bipartisan Congressional support, and without a continued, robust investment in LSC, the disparity in access to justice will continue to widen.
We hope you will stand with all of us to underscore the importance of civil legal aid to our democracy and support continued funding of this vital organization.