Nonprofit Newswire | Legal Services Funding Switch Out Sought

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March 15, 2010; Washington Post | Yesterday we highlighted an article about the interest of the Obama Administration in indigent defense. This article has another story about legal services, this one in Maryland. The Maryland Legal Services Corporation, which passes along payments from Lawyers’ trust fund accounts to 35 local legal services offices, find their income from this source has been seriously impacted by low interest rates and has plummeted 70 percent, from $6.7 million in 2008 to an expected $2 million for this year. This could, in turn, prevent the local legal service offices they fund from being able to help clients at anywhere near demand, since the need for services has increased 60 percent in the kinds of issues they help with—housing assistance, unemployment and food stamp benefits. The state senate has passed a bill in response that authorizes increases in filing fees that could amount to as much as $9 million. The House is expected to follow suit.—Ruth McCambridge