Economic Impacts of Civil Legal Aid Organizations in Georgia

By: Kenneth A. Smith, Andrea J. Brewer, and Kathy Garwold; Resource for Great Programs. Published by: Atlanta Legal Aid Society. Published in February 2013.

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In 2011, Georgia Programs Generated Economic Impacts Worth $200 Million Civil legal assistance programs in Georgia work directly with low-income populations, but investments in these programs are more than investments in the historically underprivileged. Every dollar invested in civil legal services produces financial impacts worth many times the initial investment—benefiting businesses, local governments, and individuals across all social classes. Those who work in civil legal services aim to achieve social values such as equal access to justice; those who invest in their work make an investment in both social and economic values, combined.

Quantifiable Outcomes: Over $8 in Economic Impacts for Every $1 of Funding

While it is difficult to place a dollar amount on many of the societal benefits that civil legal services programs produce (such as fair administration of justice or the correction of discriminatory practices), these organizations also achieve financial outcomes that are readily quantifiable (such as Social Security payments, Medicaid awards, and cost savings to taxpayers). Improved case management systems make it possible to track dollar benefits awarded directly to legal aid clients through successful casework, while economic modeling reveals the further effects that these awards have on local communities as a result of changes in demand. Comparing legal aid programs’ overall financial impacts with their total funding demonstrates the economic impact of investing in legal aid.

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

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