Legal Services Corporation

Latest Developments


Senators are arguing the cost and breadth of an upcoming emergency disaster supplemental spending bill.

Previous iterations of this bill in both the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), and the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, chaired by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), have both included $15 million for the Legal Services Corporation in emergency disaster funding—without funding restrictions previously used for LSC disaster funding.

Democrats seek aid for 2017 disasters in addition to 2018 disasters, while Republicans seek to control spending and to focus on 2018 disasters.

On 2/26/2019, Georgia Republican Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue introduced a $13.6 billion version containing $610 million in nutrition benefits for 1.4 million Puerto Rico residents. 

Senator Shelby and Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are negotiating a more expansive version.


On February 15, 2019, the Consolidate Appropriations Act, 2019 became law. The enactment followed a partial and extended government shutdown. In the Fiscal Year 2019 Commerce Justice Science Appropriations title of the law, the Legal Services Corporation received $415,000,000. The text is available here and is linked below under the Resources tab at left.


On September 28, President Trump signed H.R. 6157 (P.L. 115-245) which provided full-year funding for the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Education. The bill also includes a continuing resolution to ensure that the entire federal government will be funded through December 7, 2018. This includes funding LSC at $410 million.


On September 18, the ABA sent thank you letters to the House and Senate co-sponsors of the POWER Act for their leadership on passing the bill and requires the chief judge from each judicial district to promote annually pro bono legal services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The law, which was enacted September 4th, includes in its findings the ABA Model Rules and commentary stating that “every lawyer, regardless of professional prominence or professional workload, has a responsibility to provide legal services to those unable to pay, and personal involvement in the problems of the disadvantaged can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the life of a lawyer.”

Click here to read more of the latest developments on LSC


The President is calling for the elimination of the Legal Services Corporation. Make a stand for legal aid!

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) ensures “Equal Justice Under Law” by enabling access to the justice system for vulnerable Americans.

LSC, the central foundation for the legal aid system, provides the backbone for America’s civil legal aid and pro bono system.

93.7% of LSC’s total budget is awarded in grants to 133 civil legal aid programs with over 800 offices nationwide. At least one LSC grantee serves each county and territory of the United States.

For decades the ABA has advocated Legal Services Corporation funding as the embodiment of the federal government’s role in securing the federal rights and duties it created for the people—securing the core American value of equal justice under law.

The LSC has always had bipartisan support in Congress, and polling indicates 82% of Americans support equal access to justice that protects the vulnerable.

Budget and Appropriations Process for FY 2019

In practice, Congress has moved to biennial budgeting in recent years. For Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019, the budgets were set on 2/9/2018.

The normal budget process calls for the U.S. House and Senate Budget Committees to consider the Administration’s annual budget proposal and then to produce an annual budget establishing the total amount of discretionary spending for the fiscal year beginning October 1st and ending September 30th. However, the Administration submitted the Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal to Congress on 2/12/2018, three days after the FY2019 budget was set.

Fiscal Year 2019 defense spending and non-defense spending will increase by $5 billion each over the Fiscal Year 2018 levels.

At this point, the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees can begin writing the 12 appropriations bills that set the spending for the federal government.

In recent years, the 12 appropriations bills have routinely been bundled into an omnibus appropriations bill.

Appropriations bills are supposed to be completed before the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1st, but the deadlines are regularly breached, necessitating continuing resolutions (CRs) that fund government through a new deadline. Congress often needs 4 or 5 CRs per year before the final appropriations bills can be enacted.

ABA Policy

The ABA supports a strong, federally funded, community controlled program to provide legal aid for the poor. The ABA favors substantial private bar involvement in the delivery of legal services and actively encourages pro bono participation by individual attorneys, law firms, and corporate general counsels.





Legal Aid Directory

Click here for a list of legal aid offices by state. The list includes national and state-specific resources for both veterans and non-military persons who qualify for legal aid.


Aloysius Hogan, Esq.
Legislative Counsel

Governmental Affairs Office
American Bar Association
1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Direct: (202) 662-1767
FAX: (202) 662-1762