Major Layoffs for Legal Aid Expected in 2012

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January 26, 2012; Source: Wall Street Journal Law Blog | NPQ has published a number of articles and newswires (see here, here, here and here) on reductions in legal services funding throughout the recession. The flow of money from the interest on Lawyers Trust Fund accounts was decreased precipitously by the housing crisis, so when Congress slashed funding for legal aid groups by 14 percent last year on top of state funding reductions, it did not bode well for the representation of the poor. So it was no surprise when the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) released a report, after askinggrantees to project staff reductions for the year, that the findings from 2010 to 2012 include:

* A 13.3 percent cut in attorneys, from 4,351 to 3,769

* A 15.4 percent cut in paralegals, from 1,614 to 1,364

* A 12.7 percent cut in support staff, from 3,094 to 2,700

Jim Sandman, LSC’s president, comments, “We are experiencing the consequences of a wholesale reduction in so-called discretionary spending, but access to justice is not a discretionary issue in America. We think funding for legal services should be correlated to the increase in the size of the poverty population.” LSC provides 43.6 percent of the funding for legal aid groups nationwide. –Ruth McCambridge