civil legal

Healey, the state’s top judge rallied for $49M state investment into legal aid for low-income residents

Lawyers, bar association leaders and advocates are urging Massachusetts legislators to allocate more money for civil legal aid programs in the next state budget. They say the past few years showed an increased demand for these programs, which provide low-income residents with free legal advice and representation.

Hundreds of people attended a virtual event Thursday in support of a $49 million allocation, including some heavy hitters in Boston’s legal circles, such as Gov. Maura Healey and Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly Budd. The budget-writing process for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, is revving up as the governor drafts her ideas for tens of billions in state spending.

“Our legal system is dedicated to the principle of providing equal justice for all,” said Budd. “But too often we fall short of the ideal because many people still lack the legal resources that they need to present their cases in the courts, and our legal aid organizations work tirelessly simply do not have enough funding to provide counsel for everyone who comes to them seeking help.”

Budd said in the last three years, civil legal aid cases involving unemployment insurance quadrupled from pre-pandemic figures, and that domestic violence cases, housing and immigration all increased by 20%.

Fewer people were turned away from legal aid services this past year thanks to state funding — but advocates say more is needed.

Louis Tompros, chair of the Equal Justice Coalition, which hosted Thursday’s event, said last year state dollars helped cut down on how many qualified recipients had to be turned away by legal aid programs across the state: 47% last year, down from 57% the year before.

“More funding means more people being served, and yet there remains a huge unmet need,” he said. “Almost half of low-income residents

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Mass. SJC chief justice calls for an increase in state funding for civil legal aid for low-income residents

The pandemic has spurred low-income people to seek legal aid for unemployment, domestic violence, housing and immigration cases. But there’s not nearly enough funding for legal aid organizations to meet the exploding demand, says Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly S. Budd.

So Budd is calling for more state funding to address the growing equity concerns.

“Our legal system is dedicated to the principle of providing equal justice for all. But too often we fall short of that ideal, because many people still lack the resources that they need to present their cases in the courts,” Budd said Thursday in remarks delivered during the 24th annual Talk to the Hill event organized by the Equal Justice coalition, a collaboration between the Boston and Massachusetts bar associations and the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation.

“Our legal aid organizations, who work tirelessly, simply don’t have enough funding to provide counsel for everyone who comes to them seeking help,” Budd said. “Nearly half of the people who seek assistance do not get it.”

Budd and advocates called for $49 million in increased state funding in fiscal year 2024 for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, the largest funding source for civil legal aid organizations in the state. The body was established by the Legislature in 1983 to ensure low-income residents have representation in noncriminal matters including housing, employment, health care, immigration, and domestic violence issues such as restraining orders.

Over the last three fiscal years, civil legal aid cases involving unemployment insurance have quadrupled, and domestic violence, housing and immigration have all grown by 20 percent or more, Budd said.

“The need is clear,” Budd said.

Budd referred to a recent nationwide poll conducted by the National Center for State Courts which found that nearly half of all respondents questioned whether state courts

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Ministers refuse to budge on civil legal aid timetable | News

The timetable for the government’s major review of the civil legal aid system will not be brought forward, ministers signaled today.

The Ministry of Justice’s announcement states that the final report will be published in 2024, which suggests any measures to save the shrinking sector may not be implemented until late 2024 at the earliest – in the likely runup to the next general election.

Labor’s Andy Slaughter pressed ministers on the timetable in the Commons today. ‘The [review] is an admission that the cuts brought in by the LASPO act have left the civil courts in a dysfunctional state, with a third of providers out of business and longer and longer delays in proceedings. The timetable for review takes its implementation beyond the general election, which is another abdication of responsibility for the chaos in the courts they’ve caused. Shouldn’t they bring forward either the review or the general election?’

Justice minister Mike Freer replied: ‘In terms of reform of all parts of the justice system, it is a priority. But within the spending envelope that we’re operating in, we have to spend the money where we can get the best return for our investment. If the honorable gentleman has some serious options for how we can spend the money better, then I’m all ears.’

Mike Freer

The Law Society and Bar Council have already voiced concern about the timetable, with Bar Council chair Nick Vineall KC warning that the delay ‘creates a threat in itself’.

The Legal Aid Practitioners Group urged the government to act on existing data and the recommendations of experts from across the profession to implement solutions as quickly as possible.

LAPG co-chairs Nicola Mackintosh and Jenny Beck said: ‘Civil legal aid fees have not increased in 30 years, and indeed have been cut in

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States turn to high-tech kiosks to get legal help to those facing evictions

EVANSVILLE, Il. — On the second floor of this courthouse, what at first glance looks like an ATM is actually a legal lifeline. It is a legal aid kiosk, which helps users facing evictions to get the legal help they need.

“It’s going to either be in the courthouse or in their local library, and that’s where low-income people seek help,” said Scott Wylie, an attorney with ProBono Indiana. “It’s touch screen; it’s intuitive. They can look up all of the resources that are available and provide legal assistance in their eviction actions and other housing stability related issues. They can directly connect to a legal navigator who is trained to be able to provide them with guidance.”

When evictions began to rise in the state last year, pro bono legal services found many tenants in need of legal help.

“We found that over 50% of eviction clients, who were arriving to be removed from their apartment, had never heard of civil legal aid or rental assistance. Over 50%,” Wylie said.

According to data collected by The Eviction Lab, as of early November, the number of evictions in cities across the country is on the rise. When compared to their average numbers from previous years, in Las Vegas, it rose 60%; in Cleveland, it was up 61%; in Milwaukee, it climbed to 68% and in Tampa, it skyrocketed 121%.

“We have a large problem across the United States, and solutions like these help chip away at those inequities that poor people are confronted with,” Wylie said.

Several states are now making use of legal kiosks, including Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota.

In Indiana, $1 million in federal COVID relief funds paid for 120 kiosks to get deployed across the state, which connects users to Indiana Legal

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Lillian Moy, lawyer and ‘do-gooder’, looks back on 27 years at Legal Aid Society in Albany

ALBANY – In 1995, when Lillian Moy became executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York, the job she would hold for the next 27 years, nonprofit law firms that provided civil legal services for the poor were hardly major political players.

By Moy’s second year, their funding was on the chopping block in Congress.

“One of my friends said that year that the only thing less popular in Washington DC than a poor person was a poor person with a lawyer,” Moy said recently.

In more than a quarter-century since that time, Moy led the society to expand its services to litigants, its level of financial and volunteer support from law firms and its coverage area from six upstate counties to 16. After 27 years, Moy will retire on Dec. 16, capping a career that’s brought much-needed legal representation for the underserved, as well as accolades from some of the highest-profile legal minds in Albany and beyond.

“Her passion, perversion, and tireless pursuit of justice are inspiring. We could not have asked for a better leader,” James Hacker, a managing partner in the firm of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy and the chair of the society’s board of directors , said at a gala celebration in Moy’s honor at the Albany Capital Center on Nov. 9.

“Lillian has been a driving force in increasing access to justice to meet the needs of our low-income communities,” Hacker said. “Her work has helped tens of thousands of families and individuals access the legal services they need to help with unemployment, homelessness prevention, education, disability, and hundreds of other civil legal matters.”

Moy, who graduated from Hunter College in 1974 and Boston University School of Law in 1981, found her niche in a critical area of ​​the law that

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New report shows impact of Michigan’s civil legal aid services

A new report has found that in 2019 and 2020, for every one dollar invested in Michigan’s civil legal aid services, they delivered nearly seven dollars in financial benefits.

That includes savings in law enforcement and court systems as well as reductions in community medical care expenses.

WKAR’s Sophia Saliby spoke with Angela Tripp, the vice chair of the state’s Justice for All Commissionwhich issued the report.

Interview Highlights

On why this report was created

Unlike the criminal context, where everyone is entitled to an attorney even if they can’t afford one, there is no such guarantee on the civil side. And so civil legal aid is kind of the only option for people with civil legal needs to get legal help if they can’t afford to hire their own attorney. One of the Justice For All Commission’s goals is to increase funding for civil legal aid, you know, the more funding these programs have, the more people they can help, the more needs they can meet.

On the return of investment for offering civil legal aid

So to be able to say that, you know, for every dollar you give a civil legal aid program, we deliver $6.69 in immediate and long term consequential financial benefits, really puts that in a framework that a lot more people understand and appreciate. And so, it’s not just this mother and her three children who get to retain housing because, you know, that’s a priceless benefit. You can’t really put a price tag on that, except that you can put a price tag on what that saves in other areas in terms of money saved in sheltering that family and access to emergency public benefits.

On how the report will impact the state of legal aid services in Michigan


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Free Legal Aid services yields immediate and long-term benefits

Civil legal aid services in the state of Michigan yield 669% return on investment in social and economic value, according to a recent report released by the Justice for All commission.

By providing resources for more than 100 civil legal aid issues, the report found that the added economic value adds both immediate and long-term benefits to communities and the state. It accounts for the money that would be otherwise spent on assistance, if free legal aid wasn’t available to prevent possible long-term issues.

The report is being used to help understand the importance of free legal aid in the state of Michigan, as investment in these programs rises, many expect to see even greater social economic benefits.

The civil legal issues that are addressed by these aid programs include, custody, healthcare, consumer protection (such as foreclosure and debt collection), eviction and more. These programs assist with legal advice, paperwork, and legal representation. There are more than 1.7 million Michigan residents eligible for assistance from Michigan Legal Aid.

Angela Tripp is the director of the Michigan Legal Aid Help program, and the Vice Chair on the Justice for All commission. She explains that the report allows the commission to monetize the work in legal aid, and justify further investment.

“It’s not just helping these individual people with an immediate crisis but it’s creating long-term benefits,” she explained.

The report suggests that addressing and providing aid to address these issues, rather than leaving the community without legal help or knowledge, have longer term benefits that exceed the cost of offering these services.

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More than $2.5M awarded to Indiana legal aid providers

Legal aid providers around the state that offer civil legal assistance to low-income Hoosiers have received a financial boost totaling more than $2.5 million from the Indiana Bar Foundation.

“Allocating funds to civil legal assistance programs and supporting individuals interested in a legal career exemplifies the multi-faceted commitment of the Indiana Bar Foundation to direct funding where it has the greatest impact,” Charles Dunlap, bar foundation president and CEO, said in a statements.

The pot of money is comprised of $1.5 million from the Indiana Civil Legal Aid Fund and $1 million in revenue from the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts. Established in 1997, the Civil Legal Aid Fund is funded by the Legislature and provides support to organizations offering legal help to indigent families in the state. The bar foundation, in partnership with the Indiana Supreme Court, distributes the $1.5 million annually.

In all, 13 agencies around the state received money.

The largest recipient of funding was Pro Bono Indiana, which coordinates volunteer attorneys to provide pro bono services to low-income clients across the state. It received $1.08 million, which included $965,000 from IOLTA plus $112,565.44 from the Civil Legal Aid Fund.

The other recipients and their awards are as follows:

  • Indiana Legal Services, Inc.: $596,861.20
  • Neighborhood Christian Legal Aid Clinic: $313,027.43
  • Indianapolis Legal Aid Society: $209,055.31
  • Volunteer Lawyer Program of Northeast Indiana, Inc.: $50,585.44
  • Center for Victim and Human Rights Corp.: $38,302.83
  • Child Advocates: $38,302.83
  • Disability Legal Services of Indiana: $38,302.83
  • Law School Legal Services, Inc.: $38,302.83
  • Metro Community Outreach: $31,131.98
  • Legal Aid Society of Evansville: $22,056.70
  • Legal Aid Corporation of Tippecanoe County: $7,495.16
  • Whitewater Valley pro Bono Commission, Inc.: $4,010.41

Also, the Indiana Bar Foundation was awarded its Phelps and Fara Scholarship to Timara Turman, a student at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. A

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Legal Aid Society Calls for New Chief Judge with Public Defender Experience when Janet DiFiore Steps Down


THE NEW YORK JOURNAL said Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, Janet DiFiore, is stepping down from her role after seven years, according to her letter of resignation released Monday, July 12, 2022. DiFiore was formerly Westchester County’s district attorney.
Photo courtesy of drummajorinstitute via Flickr

Public defenders, The Legal Aid Society, released a statement on Monday, July 12, in response to an announcement by the New York State Court of Appeals chief judge, Janet DiFiore, that she will resign next month after seven years in the role. The public defenders are calling for a progressive-leaning judge to be appointed to the bench.

“The Legal Aid Society thanks Chief Judge Janet DiFiore for her years of public service and efforts to improve New York’s court system, bolster funding for civil legal services organizations, and for improving our clients’ access to justice,” an extract from the statement read . “We implore Gov. Kathy Hochul to now nominate a jurist to the New York State Court of Appeals who has served as a public defender, civil legal services attorney or both, and equally important, from the neighborhoods we serve, historically marginalized communities of color,” the statement continued .

Earlier this week, The New York Law Journal shared an extract from DiFiore’s resignation letter. “On August 31, 2022 I will step down as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and the State of New York and move on to the next chapter in life deeply proud of what we have been able to accomplish together, and forever grateful to each of you for your commitment to excellence,” the letter reportedly read.

According to The New York Law Journal, DiFiore wrote that she set out to bring operational and decisional excellence to every level of the

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Iowa Legal Aid receives $1.4 million to help derecho victims

Iowa Legal Aid will receive more than $1.4 million from the Legal Services Corporation to help provide legal services to low-income people who were impacted by the August 2020 derecho.

The nonprofit corporation, which pays for civil legal aid for low-income people, was also awarded an additional $34,577 to reimburse Iowa Legal Aid for services related to the derecho.

The Iowa organization is one of 19 across the country receiving grants for natural disasters that happened in 2020 and 2021, according to a news release from the Legal Services Corporation.

Congress included $40 million for the nonprofit in a $28.6 billion emergency supplemental appropriation attached to the September 2021 continuing resolution to fund the government in fiscal 2022.

Nick Smithberg, executive director of Iowa Legal Aid, said Thursday they are grateful for the additional funding.

The money, he said, will allow them to hire additional staff — paralegals and lawyers — in the Cedar Rapids regional office and in Des Moines. They will also use the funding to engage more legal volunteers and conduct community building and outreach with Iowa’s disaster response groups.

Lawyers aren’t the first thing people think about needing when a natural disaster strikes but disasters bring many legal challenges, Smithberg said.

Many times, people who have storm damage to their homes need help with a title so they can receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They may need help Replacing documents or with insurance claims and with contractor fraud or scams.

Smithberg said he didn’t have any statistics for the number of derecho cases Legal Aid has been handled, but hopes to do that once additional staff is hired.

The recovery process, he said, will continue for a long time. The last legal aid cases related to the 2008 historic flood weren’t closed

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