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NLADA Says Budget Deal Comes at Expense of the Poor Who Need Legal Services

Date: April 12, 2011

Washington, DC, April 12, 2011—The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) cautioned against further cuts in federal programs that provide legal services to the poor after details emerged today about a $15.75 million cut to Legal Services Corporation (LSC) programs.

“While we realize that the federal budget presents a major challenge, we are extremely concerned that deficit reduction is coming at the expense of poor people who did not create the fiscal crisis,” said Jo-Ann Wallace, president and CEO of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. “As Congress prepares to confront next year’s budget, they should not impose additional cuts that already are depriving people from getting the fair and equal access to justice that they deserve.”

The House and Senate leadership agreement for FY 2011 includes cuts in LSC basic field funding of $15 million plus an additional rescission of .2 percent, bringing the total cut to basic field funding to $15.76 million. The final FY 2011 overall appropriation for LSC is $404.19 million, which cuts basic funding to the legal services field by nearly 4 percent.

Wallace said “it is truly sad to see the government focus its deficit-reduction zeal on programs that serve the neediest among us.”

She said NLADA and the entire equal justice community must redouble its efforts to preserve federal funding for legal services in FY 2012, and she called on members of Congress and the White House to protect the interests of people who need legal services in matters such as home foreclosures, child support payments and veterans’ benefits but are unable to pay for equitable and competent representation.

The National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA), founded in 1911, is America's oldest and largest nonprofit association of individual legal professionals and organizations devoted to ensuring the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. For 100 years, NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state and local level.