What Do Lawyers Think About Civil Legal Aid?

August 19, 2014 - 12:19 pm
by Elizabeth Arledge

Professional pollsters surveyed 368 lawyers. The presentation slideshow is now available on the Voices website.

So what do lawyers think about civil legal aid? And what prompts them to donate or to volunteer? Inquiring minds wanted to know, so with the help of the Public Welfare Foundation, we recently commissioned opinion research by Lake Research Partners and The Tarrance Group.

Legal aid fundraisers were particularly eager for the news, so Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners previewed the findings for them last month at the annual Management Information Exchange Fundraising Conference. The research, which follows up on 2013 research among likely voters, included individual interviews and an online survey of 368 lawyers. The presentation slideshow is now available on the Voices website, and a full report of the findings will be posted next month. Here are a few headlines:

  • Unlike voters, who are largely unaware of civil legal aid, lawyers are nearly universally familiar with the term and have solidly positive impressions.
  • A strong majority of lawyers – 59 percent – indicate a previous or current involvement with civil legal aid as donors or volunteers. By a margin of two to one, they are more likely to volunteer their services than to make a monetary donation.
  • By a margin of 65 percent to 25 percent (with just 10 percent undecided), lawyers express initial support for increasing government funding for civil legal aid. With 29 percent expressing strong support, the intensity in support outweighs all opposition among lawyers.
  • The new, broader definition of civil legal aid is well received by lawyers, especially by those who previously or currently volunteer or donate. In fact, it increases support and intensity from already robust initial levels.
  • Lawyers are less receptive than voters to delivery innovations like self-help centers and forms.

And speaking of surveys, if you have not yet taken our brief (10-15 minute) communications/media outreach survey, please do so today:https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JusticeVoices. We will begin compiling the results later this week.

Finally, we are continuing to focus our efforts on media placements, with recent hits in the New York Times, Rush to Deport Young Migrants Could Trample Asylum Claims, and USA Today, Immigration Courts Bracing for Influx of Youth Migrants. These stories highlight the important role of civil legal aid lawyers in addressing the humanitarian and due process crisis of unaccompanied children at the border. As Jonathan Ryan, executive director of RAICES (Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services) so aptly put it in the USA Today piece, “What really determines the outcome of these cases is whether or not these children have access to competent, affordable civil legal aid, not their actual eligibility.”

Thanks again for your continuing responsiveness as we put out requests for assistance with our media pitches. We couldn’t have scored our successes so far without you!

Best regards,
Martha and Elizabeth

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