By Emily Cardona, PBI Intern
For the seventh year in a row, legal department leaders have rallied to support the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the largest funder of civil legal aid in the United States.
Pro Bono Institute (PBI) and its global in-house project, Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO), along with the National Legal Aid & Defender Association and the Association of Corporate Counsel, recently circulated a letter inviting the General Counsel and Chief Legal Officers to sign on in support of increasing LSC’s funding for Fiscal Year 2024.
The General Counsels and Chief Legal Officers from 208 corporations signed a letter of support for increased funding for LSC FY2024, which was delivered to Congress on April 25, 2023. Corporations and legal departments of all sizes and from a myriad of different sectors all came together in support of this initiative.
Historically, the support of American corporate leaders has proved to have a positive impact on the allocation of funds for LSC. Between FY2022 and FY2023, LSC saw an increase of $100 million in funding. However, that is still not enough; Low-income Americans currently do not receive any or enough legal help for 92% of their civil legal problems, and roughly half of the requests for assistance received by LSC grantees are turned away, due to a lack of resources. Further, the legal needs of low-income people have only been exacerbated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. LSC found that 33% of unmet legal needs are the result of the pandemic, and it is expected that the number of people seeking help from LSC in the next several years will grow significantly as a result. Despite the tremendous need for legal services and the inequities in accessing justice, LSC has been routinely underfunded and under-resourced.
For FY2024, LSC has requested $1.576 billion in funding, which is $316 million more than last year’s request. The LSC believes this is the minimum required to meet and carry out their congressional mandate “to provide high-quality legal assistance to those who would be otherwise unable to afford adequate legal counsel” and to match rates of inflation.
CPBO is proud to support this effort to secure funding for LSC and thanks the GCs and CLOs for demonstrating their commitment to legal aid, access to justice, and pro bono legal services. For more information, please contact CPBO at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full letter here.