Economic Impact of Civil Legal Aid Services in Maine

By Todd Gabe. Published by: Maine Justice Action Group. Published in November 2016.

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After reviewing the demographic characteristics of the state’s civil legal aid recipients, Todd Gabe studied the impacts of 2015 legal services in Maine, including one-to-one services and systemic advocacy. The study also explores cost savings earned via programs targeted at reducing reliance on the state’s emergency/homeless shelters, the incidence of domestic violence, and spending on General Assistance to asylum seekers, three areas that create economic returns when considering the long term social impact. Finally, Gabe examines the systemic advocacy work of Maine’s civil legal aid providers, citing several efforts that created positive results through legal influence of courts, legislation, and administrative agencies. This analysis shows that civil legal aid services yielded significant monetary benefits through cost reductions and the enhancement of individual and community outcomes.

Highlights include:

  • Legal aid providers secured nearly $4 million in benefits from federal programs and about $2.4 million in federal grants received by the organizations – incorporating the multiplier effects of economic activity, these efforts generated about $13.4 million & decreased unemployment by creating dozens of full- and part-time positions
  • Services focused on access to education were associated with an increase of about $2.8 million in earnings over a 10-year period, demonstrating legal aid providers’ role in the elevation of income
  • One-to-one civil legal aid assistance involving a variety of issues generated approximately $37 million in 2015
  • Systemic advocacy efforts generated and maintained nearly $70 million by preventing cuts to vital resources like healthcare and public benefits, such as the work of two agencies that curtailed reductions to Medicare Savings Program (MSP), protecting the coverage of about 33,000 people

Categories: Legal Aid Attorneys, Legal Aid Practitioners, Policymakers and Funders, State-Specific

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