Voices for Civil Justice

National civil legal aid communications initiative launched 2013.

Primary geographic focus: NATIONAL
Organization type(s): Research/Policy/Organizing
Acronym or short name: Voices

Housed within and legally administered by an intermediary organization, New Venture Fund, based in Washington, DC.



Expanding Civil Legal Aid: Strategies for Branding and Communications

Celinda Lake, Brian Nienaber
Voices for Civil Justice
November 7, 2013
Lake Research Partners and the Tarrance Group, under contract with the Public Welfare and Kresge Foundations as part of their funding for Voices for Civil Justice, conducted public opinion research on expanding civil legal Aid.

Presentation , Video

Findings of the 2013 Civil Legal Aid Opinion Research, Presented by Celinda Lake

Celinda Lake
Voices for Civil Justice
March 13, 2014
In this 27:38 video, Celinda Lake presents to a conference her opinion survey finding and recommendations for building awareness of the role of civil legal aid.


Audio , News Story

Alone in Court: How Access to Legal Aid is Tied to Mobility

WNYC (NY), Brian Lehrer Show
July 28, 2015
In more than 70% of civil cases today, people who can't afford legal representation end up going to court alone. Access to counsel is a make-or-break issue for many families, and advocates for increased funding for legal aid programs.

Letter to Editor

Letters to the Editor

Martha Bergmark
August 1, 2015
Voices' Martha Bergmark reacts to ALM's feature about big law and their legal aid funding role.


The Cliff Kelley Show – On Katrina

Cliff Kelley Show (Chicago)
August 26, 2015
Martha Bergmark on the pivotal role of civil legal aid after Katrina.

News Story

The Justice Gap

Katy Reckdahl
August 24, 2015
If you care about equity, civil legal aid belongs high on the list of crucial disaster recovery programs.

Blog Post

Cutting the Poverty Rate with Civil Legal Aid

Martha Bergmark
September 28, 2015
How civil legal aid prevents poverty and injustice.


How to reduce domestic violence with legal assistance

Martha Bergmark
Fox News
January 4, 2016
The causes of domestic violence are complex, and there is no single policy or program that can prevent it from happening. But there is one critical step we can take that we know makes a great deal of difference: ensuring survivors have access to legal help, regardless of their ability to pay.


Yes, Super Bowl Sunday is a crisis for domestic violence — just like every other day

Martha Bergmark
Fox News
February 5, 2016
We can help put a stop to this crisis by increasing our investment in civil legal aid, so survivors can get the legal help they need to build a new life for themselves and their children.

News Story

Poor People Don’t Stand A Chance In Court

Bryce Covert
May 11, 2016
In theory, low-income Americans who need help with a civil case can turn to civil legal aid organizations. But there are so few of them that getting their help is a bit like winning the lottery.

News Story

In Bill, Lawmakers Propose New Limits for Seizing Workers’ Pay Over Old Debts

Paul Kiel
July 12, 2016
Last week, two lawmakers introduced a bill to put new limits on what debt collectors can take from debtors’ paychecks and bank accounts.


Judges Across The Country Are Shaking Down Poor People

Bryce Covert
August 24, 2016
Court fees stand in the way of justice for poor people.

Blog Post

Want Justice? Don’t Be Shy—Grab the Spotlight

Lonnie A. Powers
Huffington Post
September 23, 2016
Funding woes stem in large part from a lack of public knowledge about civil legal aid, despite broad support for the ideals of fairness and justice.


Op-Ed: It’s Time for Candidates to Address the Justice Gap

Martha Bergmark
October 4, 2016
Millions of Americans are fighting legal battles alone without any access to legal help, compromising the fundamental fairness of our society. Yet we hear nearly nothing about it on the campaign trail.

News Story

Trump Budget Cut Proposals Spark Outrage

Lucy Westcott
March 16, 2017
Reaction to president Trump's budget proposal.

News Story

Trump’s Budget Would Be Devastating To Poor Victims Of Domestic Abuse

Melissa Jeltsen
Huffington Post
March 17, 2017
Advocates working with victims of domestic violence reacted with alarm to President Donald Trump’s first budget blueprint, warning that his proposed cuts could have a devastating impact on vulnerable women across the country.


What Will Happen to Americans Who Can’t Afford an Attorney?

Matt Ford
Atlantic, The
March 19, 2017
President Trump’s budget would eliminate the Legal Services Corporation, which helps low-income individuals obtain representation in civil proceedings.

News Story

Donald Trump Plans to Eliminate Legal Aid Funding That Supports Survivors of Domestic Violence

Jordan Smith
Intercept, The
March 20, 2017
When Sonota thinks about funding for legal aid being discontinued, she gets choked up. She believes defunding the LSC would sound a death knell for people like her.

News Story

Can’t Afford a Lawyer?

Christie Thompson
Marshall Project
July 18, 2018
Civil representation is too expensive for many, but Washington state has one solution.


How Rising Inequality Has Widened the Justice Gap

Robert Frank
New York Times (NYT)
August 31, 2018
Rising inequality has harmed low-income families not only by depriving them of a fair share of society’s income growth, but also in a more specific way: It has stacked the legal system even more heavily against them.


Legal Aid Vet Bergmark Dishes On Rising Up For Civil Justice

RJ Vogt
April 21, 2019
Last month, Voices launched All Rise for Civil Justice, a platform providing stories of people about the people enmeshed in the world of bankruptcy, debt-collection, divorce, tenant-landlord disagreements, child custody battles, benefits challenges and more.


Justice Ain’t Much if You Can’t Afford It. America Needs to Overhaul Its Civil Law

Martha Bergmark
July 18, 2019
There is a crisis in this country's civil justice system, but with new resolve and investment in systemic reforms and civil legal aid, we can achieve Fannie Lou Hamer's vision of a civil justice system that fulfills America's promise of justice for all.


A cancer survivor paid an old debt, but collectors garnished her wages anyway. It’s part of a disturbing trend that’s about to get worse.

Martha Bergmark, Lauren Saunders
Business Insider
September 6, 2019
A few large debt-buying corporations overload our civil courts against powerless defendants who can't afford the legal help to defend themselves.

News Story

As Rents Rise, Cities Strengthen Tenants’ Ability to Fight Eviction

Laura Kusisto
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
December 26, 2019
Half-a-dozen cities from San Francisco to Cleveland are promising tenants the right to an attorney in eviction cases, a costly and logistically daunting initiative that advocates say is a necessary response to rising housing costs and homelessness.

Letter to Editor

A Need for Civil Legal Aid

Martha Bergmark
New York Times (NYT)
April 10, 2015
If we increase our investment in civil legal aid, we’ll have a healthy legal industry and a healthy justice system that fulfills our country’s promise of justice for all, not just for the few who can afford it.


Fifty Years After ‘Freedom Summer,’ Reasons to Celebrate – and Lament

Martha Bergmark
National Law Journal, ALM
July 14, 2014
By leveling the playing field in the justice system, civil legal aid honors the American values and spirit embodied in the Freedom Summer of 1964.

News Story

‘Condo Takeover Schemes’ Can Pose New Foreclosure Threat

Seth Freed Wessler
NBC News
October 6, 2014
Greater Boston Legal Services helps defend against condo takeover scam in this investigation by the NBC News "In Plain Sight" project on poverty and inequality in America.

Blog Post

First Katrina, Now Sandy: Three Mistakes We Keep Making After Natural Disasters

Martha Bergmark
Huffington Post
May 23, 2014
As a Mississippi native, civil legal aid lawyer and a veteran of Hurricane Katrina, I'm all too familiar with our mistakes during disaster recovery.

Blog Post

Protecting Taxpayers from Abuse

Martha Bergmark
Huffington Post
April 14, 2014
Civil legal aid groups, their lawyers and volunteers play an important role in protecting low-income taxpayers against abuse by tax preparers and minimizing the drain from taxpayers pocketbooks.

Letter to Editor

July 4 Reading: Income Inequality

Martha Bergmark
New York Times (NYT)
July 3, 2014
Joseph E. Stiglitz astutely points out that “justice has become a commodity, affordable only to the few.”


Joe Surkiewicz: Voices for Civil Justice raise profile of civil legal aid

Joe Surkiewicz
Daily Record (Maryland)
May 1, 2014
Voices for Civil Justice is a non-partisan communications hub with the mission of raising awareness of the vital role legal aid plays in helping people provide for their health, their livelihoods and their families.


Tenants Facing Eviction in Era of Skyrocketing Rents Need Legal Assistance

Martha Bergmark
American Prospect, The
September 18, 2014
Without legal assistance, tenants often miss crucial steps and find themselves out of a home.


Refuge-seeking kids face deportation hearings alone

Martha Bergmark
September 4, 2014
Voices' ED Bergmark spotlights the work of civil legal aid attorneys, and calls for more resources so thousands of unaccompanied migrant children do not face complicated, high-stakes legal proceedings alone.


When Poverty Makes You Sick, a Lawyer Can Be the Cure

Tina Rosenberg
New York Times (NYT)
July 17, 2014
Good introduction to medical-legal partnerships, explaining how they help people, doctors and lawyers. From the NYT Opinionator "Fixes" blog.

This page last modified: Thu, April 16, 2015 -- 6:39 pm ET