Documenting the Justice Gap In America: The Current Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans

Published by: Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Published in September 2005.

Link to PDF

The report finds that for every client served by an LSC-funded program, at least one person who sought help was turned down because of insufficient resources. Only a very small percentage of the legal problems experienced by low-income people (one in five or less) are addressed with the assistance of either a private attorney (pro bono or paid) or a legal aid lawyer. Despite the changes in legal aid delivery over the last decade, a majority of legal aid lawyers still work in LSC-funded programs. The per capita ratio of legal aid attorneys funded by all sources to the low-income population is a tiny fraction of the ratio of private attorneys providing personal civil legal services to the general population.

Eliminating the Justice Gap: Providing Necessary Access to Civil Legal Assistance
The enormity of the justice gap documented in this report means that eliminating the gap will require a sustained, long-term effort involving a partnership of federal and state governments, the private bar, and concerned public and private parties. A key first step is to quantify what it would take to provide necessary access to civil legal assistance. This report concludes that doing so will require increasing our nation’s capacity to provide civil legal assistance to five times the current capacity. While the Legal Services Corporation cannot accomplish this alone, it is incumbent on LSC to lead the way by drawing attention to the justice gap, identifying the goal of eliminating it,
and beginning to move toward it in firm, measured strides.

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

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