Legal Help for the Poor: The View From the A.B.A.

To address justice gap, increase LSC funding and pro bono work instead of opening the practice of law to unschooled, unregulated nonlawyers.

Letter to Editor (NATIONAL)

William T. Robinson III
New York Times (NYT)
August 30, 2011
Link to story

Tags: Funding: IOLTA, Funding: State & Local, Justice Gap, Legal Needs, Non-lawyers, Pro Bono, Unbundling

Organizations mentioned/involved: American Bar Association (ABA), Legal Services Corporation (LSC)


The American Bar Association strongly agrees that our nation must expand access to justice for low-income Americans (“Addressing the Justice Gap,” editorial, Aug. 24).

However, a rush to open the practice of law to unschooled, unregulated nonlawyers is not the solution. This would cause grave harm to clients. Even matters that appear simple, such as uncontested divorces, involve myriad legal rights and responsibilities. If the case is not handled by a professional with appropriate legal training, a person can suffer serious long-term consequences affecting loved ones or financial security. It also could lead to a violation of the law.

The A.B.A. believes that more funding is needed for legal assistance for the poor. The Legal Services Corporation, which provides core funding for the legal aid system, deserves the full appropriation ($450 million) proposed by the president.

Make no mistake: the organized bar is doing its part. The A.B.A. supports lawyer-contributed pro bono services and calls on state bar associations to implement reporting of pro bono work.