2017 LSC Justice Gap Report

By: Legal Services Corporation. Published on: June 14, 2017

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While legal assistance is a right in criminal cases, there is no right to counsel in civil cases. As a result, many low-income Americans must face civil matters without legal representation. LSC defines this difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs as the justice gap.

In exploring the justice gap in 2017, this study describes the volume of civil legal needs faced by low-income Americans, assesses the extent to which they seek and receive help, and measures the size of the justice gap. In addition to the types of data and analyses provided in the 2005 and 2009 studies LSC published on the justice gap, this report also seeks to address new questions about the civil legal needs of low-income Americans who do not seek professional legal services.


  • Section 1: Low-income America This section describes low-income Americans by exploring how many people in the U.S. live below 125% of the FPL, how they are distributed across the country, and some key demographics of this population.
  • Section 2: Experience with Civil Legal Problems This section presents findings on the prevalence of civil legal problems low-income households experience, the types of problems they face, and the degree to which civil legal problems affect their lives.
  • Section 3: Seeking Legal Help This section examines reasons why people do not seek legal help, where people turn for legal help, which types of problems are most likely to receive legal attention, and what types of legal assistance they receive.
  • Section 4: Reports from the Field This section presents findings on the assistance low-income Americans receive after seeking help from a legal aid organization funded by LSC.

Categories: General/Unspecified Clients, Legal Aid Attorneys, Legal Aid Practitioners, National, News Media, Policymakers and Funders, Researchers and Academics

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