Civil Legal Aid in the United States: An Update for 2019

By: Alan W. Houseman. Prepared for the International Legal Aid Group. Published in February 2020.

Link to report

This report outlines the history of civil legal aid and highlights major developments in the field between July 2017 and December 2019. Similar to previous years, legal aid programs are underresourced to accommodate all who need and qualify for legal aid services.

Highlights include:

  • The Trump administration called for the elimination of the Legal Services Corporation and no further funding in FY 2018, 2019, and 2020. In response, in 2019, similar to previous years, there was large bipartisan support for continued LSC funding. In 2019, unlike previous years, 262 General Counsels from some of the largest American businesses signed a letter in support of LSC.
  • Several cities have adopted a right to counsel in eviction proceedings including New York City, San Francisco, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, and Philadelphia.
  • Several years ago, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services awarded the NCMLP a cooperative agreement to provide training and technical assistance to community health centers to support integration of civil legal aid services into health care delivery at the health centers. Over 98 health care centers now have MLPs.
  • In 2019, for the first time since the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global community came together to focus on Goal 16’s call to “ensure equal access to justice for all.” On this occasion, NLADA launched an initiative to further connect the U.S. corporate community interested in advancing access to justice with opportunities to strategically collaborate with NLADA’s members – civil legal aid offices, public defender offices, and clients across the country – to advance the goal of providing 100% justice for all.


Categories: Legal Aid Practitioners, National, Policymakers and Funders, Researchers and Academics

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