July 26, 2017

Statement of ABA President Linda A. Klein Re: Senate proposal for Legal Services Corporation funding

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2017 — The American Bar Association applauds the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies for recommending funding for the Legal Services Corporation of $385 million in fiscal year 2018. This is the same funding that LSC currently receives.

The ABA, which represents more than 400,000 members, is especially grateful for the cooperation and support of Chairman Richard Shelby and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen in maintaining level funding despite the White House’s recommendation that all federal funding for the LSC be eliminated.

The Legal Services Corporation is an essential part of our American justice system. It ensures equal access to civil justice for all Americans, regardless of income. LSC is the single largest funder of civil legal aid programs in the United States, supporting 133 organizations and serving every congressional district. A report released last month by the University of Chicago found 71 percent of low-income families experienced at least one civil legal problem last year, but 86 percent of those problems received inadequate or no legal help. Much of this justice gap is due to insufficient funding.

People with civil legal problems include survivors of domestic violence or sexual abuse, veterans trying to secure benefits, people looking to improve housing conditions and health care and victims of natural disasters. More than 60 million Americans have family incomes that qualify them for free legal aid, including 6 million seniors, 11 million people with disabilities, nearly 2 million veterans and 10 million rural residents.

The ABA strongly believes that everyone should have access to justice and representation in our legal system. Federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation helps meet the constitutional promise of equal justice under law. One-fourth of all funding for LSC comes from the federal government and is instrumental in helping the LSC meet the constitutional promise of equal justice under the law.

We are confident that the full Senate Appropriations Committee will pass the $385 million funding bill tomorrow. We look forward to the House matching the Senate’s funding level in the final bill later this year.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.