February 16, 2018

Statement of Hilarie Bass, ABA President Re: Proposed Elimination of Funding for the Legal Services Corporation

WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2018 – The overwhelming majority of Americans believe it is important for everyone to have access to civil legal assistance. This broad backing is recognized in the bipartisan support Congress provides each year to fund legal services through the Legal Services Corporation. In the face of strong bipartisan agreement over the value of LSC’s important work, the administration’s second budget proposal to defund such services is unwarranted and should be dead on arrival.

The success of the federal funding used to provide legal access to nearly 1.9 million veterans, seniors, domestic violence survivors, natural disaster victims, rural inhabitants and others has been confirmed in more than 30 cost-benefit analyses. What’s more, these studies show that every federal dollar spent on legal aid returns to communities more than three times as much in benefits such as social services.

The vast unmet need for legal services nationwide argues for a funding increase for this important program. At a bare minimum, continued funding of the Legal Services Corporation is critical to fulfilling our nation’s promise of justice for all and equal justice under the law.

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