Budget Like a Freak: The Economic Benefits of Free Legal Aid in Civil Cases

Free legal aid in civil cases is not only morally right, it's also cost-effective. Providing funding for legal aid pays for itself in cost savings while doing good for a lot of people.

Blog Post (NATIONAL)

Ray Brescia
Huffington Post
November 24, 2014
Link to story

Tags: Benefits of Legal Aid: Economic, Funding: Federal


To gain an appreciation for cost-effective social programs that can deliver desperately needed services and reduce human suffering, they should set their sights on the value of providing free legal assistance to low-and moderate-income individuals and families and the positive impact such services can have on other parts of government budgets, let alone improving lives.

Shocking numbers of low-and moderate-income Americans face their legal problems without a lawyer. By many estimates, roughly 80 percent of poor Americans and 50 percent of the middle class confront their legal problems without legal representation, often with very bad outcomes.

People face eviction from apartments, foreclosure of their homes, and claims of significant consumer debt that can end up impairing earnings for years, all without the assistance of a lawyer. Even for those eligible for free legal assistance through publicly funded civil legal aid programs, far more eligible individuals and families are turned away due to limited staffing and funding than actually receive assistance.

These figures are shameful in a society that prides itself on supposedly having a civil justice system that metes out equal justice