Civil Legal Aid Funding

Funding for civil legal aid comes from a range of sources, including:

  • The Legal Services Corporation. The single largest source of funding is the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which each year receives an appropriation from Congress. LSC is a private nonprofit established by Congress to support access to justice, particularly by offering grants to organizations that provide legal assistance in non-criminal matters to low-income individuals. NLADA is one of the leading advocates (link to federal advocacy page) for increased LSC funding.
  • State-based Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA). IOLTA funds distributed by state-based programs are another significant means through which to fund civil legal aid. NLADA regularly advocates for continued support for IOLTA programs.
  • Cy Pres. Cy pres distributions from class action settlements also are a source of funding for civil legal aid. Often, the work done and clients served by legal aid organizations relate to the purpose of the case, making civil legal aid an appropriate recipient. NLADA supports and defends the cy pres doctrine on the state and federal levels.
  • State bar foundations, foundations and charitable organizations, businesses, and individual donors. These all offer critical support to civil legal aid across the country.
  • Federal, state and local government. Legal aid organizations play a critical role in advancing the purpose of government-supported social services and a particularly significant source of funding for civil legal aid is provided by government entities. Learn more about how NLADA is supporting efforts to generate federal resources for legal aid organizations.