Economic Impacts of Civil Legal Aid Organizations in Virginia: Civil Justice for Low-Income People Produces Ripple Effects That Benefit Every Segment of the Community

By: Kenneth A. Smith, Andrea J. Brewer, Resource for Great Programs Published by: Legal Services Corporation of Virginia published in September 2011

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This report analyzes the economic impact of civil legal aid organizations on the state of Virginia in FY 2009-10, including direct benefits to clients, savings for taxpayers, local economic stimulus, increased tax revenue, increased judicial efficiency, and economic benefits for health providers.


Direct benefits provided to low income families through legal services included:

  • $21.9 million in Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits obtained through legal aid representation.
  • $7.0 million in Medicaid benefits coming from federal funding.
  • $1.0 million in other federal funding such as SNAP benefits.
  • $1.9 million in child support payments.
  • $8.4 million in benefits from other civil legal aid work including unemployment compensation, alimony, and affirmative consumer actions.
  • $20.6 million in money saved by families facing bankruptcy.

Cost Savings for Taxpayers:

Taxpayer savings through the activities of civil legal services included:

  • $1.8 million estimated through domestic violence prevention.
  • $1.0 million in prevented shelter costs. Other savings stemming from crime reduction, law enforcement assistance, and continuing student education that would have been disrupted by homelessness or domestic violence.

Economic Impact on Local Economy:

  • $61.3 million in the ongoing effect on local commerce created by introduced federal revenue (calculated through multiplying federal revenue by the total economic multiplier derived from U.S. Department of Commerce data).
  • 850 jobs supported by this effect.
  • $2,457,786 estimated increase in state and local tax revenue due to jobs supported.
  • $11.4 million in Medicaid funding going to local healthcare providers.


In FY 2009-10, civil legal aid provided, in a conservative estimate, a total quantifiable economic impact of $139 million, a return of $5.27 for every dollar invested legal aid programs from all sources.

Categories: General/Unspecified Clients, Legal Aid Attorneys, Legal Aid Practitioners, Policymakers and Funders, Researchers and Academics, State-Specific

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