Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants

The Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) works on matters relating to civil legal aid and public defender services. The activities of the Committee focus on the administration of justice as it affects low income populations; remedial measures intended to help protect the legal rights of low income populations; and the establishment and efficient maintenance of civil legal aid and public defender organizations and cooperation with other interested agencies, whether public or private.

COVID-19 and the Compassionate Release of the Elderly, Infirm or High Risk

COVID-19 Resources

The ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) has launched a web page that consolidates resources from across the country to assist the access to justice community in addressing the many challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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SCLAID Centennial Access to Justice Award

SCLAID Centennial Access to Justice Award

Award Overview

This award recognizes two young lawyers, one from a civil legal aid practice and one from a public defense practice, for exceptional achievements on behalf of their clients and/or in advancement of the cause of access to justice. The objective of this award is to highlight and raise awareness of exemplary and impactful work being undertaken across the nation by the next generation of leaders in the fields of civil legal aid and public defense.

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Public Defense

The Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) is working to improve public defense systems nationwide.

Access to Justice Commissions

Access to Justice Commissions are collaborative entities that bring together courts, the bar, civil legal aid providers, and other stakeholders in an effort to remove barriers to civil justice for low-income and disadvantaged people.

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Legal Aid Funding Report

Financial resource limitations remain one of the largest barriers preventing civil legal aid providers, even with their pro bono allies, from addressing the needs of low-income client communities. The ABArray Legal Aid Funding Report provides users with online access to SCLAID's national legal aid funding data collection from 2003 to present.

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Civil Right to Counsel

Access state research reports detailing existing authority for appointment of counsel in various types of civil proceedings.

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Language Access

The Standards and extensive commentary provide guidance to courts in designing, implementing, and enforcing a comprehensive system of language access services that is suited to the needs in the communities they serve.

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Help us improve access to justice by donating to the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent Defendants (SCLAID).


The Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) serves the American Bar Association by examining issues relating to the delivery of civil legal assistance and of criminal defense services to the poor. It maintains close relationships with state and local bar and legal aid/defender leaders, providing information and developing policy on civil legal aid and indigent defense. The Committee also works closely with leaders of the states’ judiciary and national judicial leaders in forging improvements in access to justice. It advocates for and works to ensure the availability of legal aid and defender services for indigent persons through a variety of activities and projects. SCLAID is the ABA’s oldest standing committee; established in 1920 under the leadership of Charles Evans Hughes. The Committee has adopted a strategic plan articulating four goals: (1) secure sufficient resources/funding in each jurisdiction to support quality legal services for persons of limited means; (2) develop and promote standards, policies, best practices and models, to support the delivery of quality legal service to persons of limited means; (3) advocate for effective systems; and (4) educate, so that policy makers, the bench, the bar and the public understand issues and requirements for legal services for persons of limited means.

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