Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille, along with other judges, low-income Pennsylvanians and the lawyers who help them, and community and business leaders testified at a Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee Public Hearing, Civil Legal Representation of the Indigent: Have We Achieved Equal Access to Justice? that was held on Thursday, May 23 in Philadelphia. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Stewart J. Greenleaf (R-Montgomery, Bucks) chaired the hearing.
The purpose of the public hearing was to explore and create awareness of the current state and scope of the unmet need for civil legal services by low-income Pennsylvanians confronting legal problems involving basic human needs.
May 23, 2013 By Holly Otterbein, @hollyotterbein Clients, attorneys and judges said Thursday that most low-income people don't get the legal help they desperately need in civil cases, where they can find themselves fighting to win custody of their children or keep their homes. State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf…
The Legal Service Corporation has submitted to Congress a request for $486 million for Fiscal Year 2014 to meet the overwhelming need for legal services and to fulfill the nation’s promise of “justice for all.”
This is an increase of $16 million over LSC’s FY 2013 appropriation request. The increase is based on LSC’s assessment of the need for legal aid, the decline in some non-LSC funding sources, and LSC’s calculation of the resources necessary to provide the same level of service that LSC grantees provided in 2007, the year before the recession began. The request includes $5 million for a new grant program to encourage innovations in pro bono legal services.
Lynn A. Jennings has joined the staff of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) as vice president for grants management. Jennings will oversee LSC’s day-to-day programmatic operations, competitive grant process, and assessment and oversight of grantees.
Prior to joining LSC, Jennings was the principal at Jennings Solutions, LLC, a management consulting firm. Her more than 20 years of experience includes serving as executive vice president and vice president for strategic initiatives at The Council for Excellence in Government, as director of strategic initiatives at the CNA Corporation’s Institute for Public Research, as general counsel for the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, and as acting assistant secretary for policy and senior advisor to the secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor.
News from the Legal Services Corporation that local legal aid providers are expected to lose hundreds of lawyers due to lack of funding could not come at a worse time. Pro bono and legal aid attorneys are desperately needed for struggling American families facing foreclosure or trying to recover from drought disasters in our heartland. Critical but woefully inadequate federal appropriations for the Legal Services Corporation and diminishing returns on Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts combined with surging demand for free civil legal advice put an untenable strain on aid providers.
The American Bar Association is dedicated to expanding funding for the Legal Services Corporation and preserving access to justice for the most vulnerable members of our community — including disabled veterans, the elderly and victims of human trafficking. The doors of our nation’s courtrooms are held open by lawyers who selflessly work at legal aid centers and those who volunteer their expertise to the poor in their communities; we owe them our gratitude and support.
Consumer attorney Cary L. Flitter, center, of the Narberth, PA law firm Flitter Lorenz, P.C. presents a check for $185,321, to MidPenn Legal Services Executive Director Rhodia D. Thomas, on left. The funds are part of a settlement valued at over $10 million from a successful challenge to an auto lender’s repossession practices.
MidPenn Legal Services, which provides free legal aid to the poor in civil matters, will use the donation to establish a Consumer Protection Attorney position, to be filled by Attorney Nancy L. Datres, on right, of the Harrisburg MidPenn office.
A budget shortfall of $1 million for North Penn Legal Services, the only free civil legal aid provider in Northeast PA and a member of the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, forced the organization to lay off 15% of its staff, and close two offices effective June 30.
Those layoffs consist of attorneys, paralegals, support staff, intake workers, and administrators. The combined loss of service from office closings and staff layoffs will be 1,538 fewer cases handled and mean that NPLS employs one legal aid advocate for every 10,000 people living in poverty in its twenty county service area. These additional staffing cuts have widened the “justice gap.”
The U.S. House of Representatives approved funding legislation on May 10, 2012 that provides $328 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in Fiscal Year 2013, after turning back two amendments that would have further cut or eliminated funding for the Corporation.
LSC funding was approximately $404 million in Fiscal Year 2011 before falling to $348 million in Fiscal Year 2012--the lowest funding ever, in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Most of LSC’s funding is used to support local nonprofit organizations via grants for the delivery of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.