The Legal Services Corporation distributes federal funding to legal aid organizations throughout the country that provide free civil legal services to 1.9 million individuals and families every year. While funding for LSC accounts for only 1/10,000th of the total federal budget, it constitutes a significant portion of the budget for these LSC-funded programs.
The current budget proposal from the White House calls for the elimination of funding for the Legal Services Corporation. The work LSC-funded organizations do is critical to those they serve, and cutting funding would significantly jeopardize their ability to carry out their mission.
In Illinois, LSC grantees include several of PILI’s partner agencies, including LAF, Prairie State Legal Services and Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation. “Eliminating funding for LSC would have a significantly detrimental impact on low-income individuals, families and communities across the country and would further strain the already stretched legal aid community,” said Michael Bergmann, PILI’s Executive Director. “Too many people in our country are already limited in their ability to access our justice system. Our full-throated support of LSC is critical to ensuring equality and accessibility in our justice system for all.”
In a statement released on March 15, 2019, American Bar Association President Bob Carlson said, “Our American justice system depends on equal access for all – not just for those who can afford a lawyer. That’s why there is broad bipartisan support in Congress to provide federal funding of the Legal Services Corporation, which supports civil legal aid offices that serve every congressional district in the country. Without this funding, thousands of veterans, seniors, domestic assault survivors, victims of natural disasters and others who are seeking justice would be effectively barred from the courthouse.”
PILI also joins the Americans Bar Association in urging Congress to continue funding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The current budget proposal also proposes the elimination of the PSLF program. Many PILI Interns and other service-minded lawyers have been able to continue on to careers in public service with the promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness. We ask that this promise be kept and this program continue to encourage young people, especially young attorneys, to choose careers in public interest.
Join PILI in standing with LSC and PSLF. The below resources provided by the American Bar Association can assist you in making sure your voice is heard:
- www.DefendLegalAid.org is an online tool makes it easy to tell Congress that you will fight for LSC.
- www.HelpLegalAid.org provides other tools and resources to help support civil legal aid programs.
If you have any questions about LSC and PILI’s relationship with and support of LSC-funded organizations, please reach out to Michael Bergmann by email or by phone at 312-832-5129.