By: State Bar of Wisconsin (WISBAR). Published in March 2007
Wisconsin families were randomly selected by a professional survey firm from a diverse pool, paying special attention to income, geographic location, and race/ethnicity. Families with incomes less than 125% of the federal poverty guidelines were our primary target and “working poor” households with incomes between 125% and 200% of the guidelines were included for comparison purposes.
Up to 80% of poor households that confront a legal need do so without legal assistance. More than half a million Wisconsinites – people with families, many of whom have jobs, own homes and pay taxes – must contend with significant legal troubles without any legal help. And 60% of the time, the party on the other side is represented by a lawyer. Some legal aid organizations are able to help only about 20% of those who qualify. At other programs, for every client who is served, another is turned away due to a lack of funding. Most of the families surveyed sought help but could not obtain it.