The Delivery Systems Study: A Policy Report to the Congress and the President of the United States

Published by: Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Published in June 1980.

Link to PDF

Study Details

The Legal Services Corporation funded 38 demonstration projects to test a variety of approaches to the delivery of legal services to the poor. The demonstrations — all of which utilized attorneys in private practice — included three types of judicare as well as five other delivery models: contracts with law firms as supplements to the staff attorney program, prepaid legal insurance, organized pro bono projects, legal clinics and voucher.

A sample of existing staff attorney programs was included in the study to provide a standard of performance on cost, client satisfaction, quality of service and impact on a broader client population against which the alternatives and supplements were measured. The study concluded that a model was viable for consideration for local use if the model demonstrated its feasibility and if all or most of the projects did as well or better than the staff attorney programs on the four performance measures in the study.


The study did not identify a single best approach for delivering legal assistance to the poor in all circumstances. The policy analysis indicates that there are a number of delivery methods, involving staff attorneys, attorneys in private practice, and combinations of the two, that can be used to deliver effective and economical legal services if appropriate local conditions and sound program management exist.

None of the alternative or supplemental models tested exceeded the standard set by the staff attorney model. Of the eight private bar models in the study, three met all of the tests to be judged viable for use by Corporation grantees. The models were : judicare with a staff component, contracts with private law firms as supplements to staff attorney programs, and organized pro bono projects. Two models, pure judicare and prepaid, were judged not to be viable delivery models. The judicare supplement to a staff attorney program failed the impact standard, but could be a viable delivery model in situations where the parent staff attorney organization would do the necessary impact work. The two remaining models — voucher and legal clinic — were not fully tested for different reasons . Neither model met the feasibility criteria. Because the voucher model operated only briefly, it could not be tested on the performance criteria. The performance of the legal clinics was measured ; however, because only two clinics were funded and they operated in very different ways, no conclusions were drawn about the clinic model.

Recommendations to Congress and the President

On the matter of statutory change, nothing in the study results supports any change in the Legal Services Corporation Act. Congress should retain the statutory authority that now provides the flexibility to develop particular systems for delivering legal assistance that are relevant to local circumstances. The Act now permits utilization of any of the models included in the study, and indeed several are being funded now, outside the Delivery Systems Study context. Nothing in the study or in the broader legal services experience would support any change mandating a particular delivery approach.

Categories: General/Unspecified Clients, Legal Aid Attorneys, Legal Aid Practitioners, National

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