A Need for Civil Legal Aid

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.
Letter to Editor (NATIONAL)

Martha Bergmark
New York Times (NYT)
April 10, 2015
Link to story

Tags: Benefits of Legal Aid, Benefits of Legal Aid: Economic, Justice Gap

Organizations mentioned/involved: Voices for Civil Justice


The real crisis in the legal industry is not a decline in law school enrollment (“Despite Forecasts of Doom, Signs of Life in the Legal Industry,” DealBook, April 1), but the unsustainable disconnect between supply and demand for legal services.

The vast majority of Americans can’t afford lawyers, whose rates average $200 to $300 an hour. In life-changing legal situations, like the potential loss of one’s home, family or livelihood, it is estimated that 70 to 98 percent of state court cases involve at least one unrepresented litigant.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Civil legal aid advocates are working to address the serious legal needs of Americans struggling to make ends meet. In partnership with leaders like Jonathan Lippman, New York State’s chief judge of the Court of Appeals, civil legal aid organizations are pioneering innovations, including online access to information and forms, court-based self-help centers, and creative use of non-lawyers.