Legal aid is an essential partner in ending Veteran homelessness.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, four of the top ten unmet needs of homeless veterans involve legal assistance for eviction/foreclosure prevention, child support issues, outstanding warrants/fines, discharge upgrades, and restoring a driver's license. Other top ten unmet needs can have a legal component, including family reconciliation assistance and credit counseling.
Check out DOJ's 2016 LAIR report to see how US Department of Veterans Affairs funds supported a legal aid lawyer who helped a veteran negotiate an agreement to avoid eviction and receive the medical assistance he needed.
Legal aid works with your state to address crime victims' unmet legal needs.
Not all states ensure legal help for crime victims, despite the documented unmet needs. According to the U.S. Department of Justice's groundbreaking study, Vision 21 Transforming Victim Services Final Report, victims of crime, such as identity theft, consumer fraud, domestic violence, elder abuse, and human trafficking, too often struggle alone with complex legal issues. The Vision 21 Report notes that a single case of victimization "…may produce myriad legal issues for the victim, including orders of protection, victims' rights enforcement, compensation, employment, housing, home foreclosure, spousal support, and child custody, visitation, and dependency."
Legal aid helps states reduce unemployment and keep Americans working.
Local workforce development boards know well the hurdles many people face in getting or keeping a job. Chances for steady employment improve with legal assistance to prevent illegal evictions or foreclosures, resolve credit report problems, untangle consumer scams, obtain child support and custody orders, or secure domestic violence restraining orders. People with criminal records may face these problems, as well as additional barriers to employment. Studies show that the chances of getting and keeping a job increase with legal help to expunge or seal old records, reinstate a suspended driver's license, and secure certificates of rehabilitation.
Check out the DOJ's 2016 LAIR report to see how US Department of Labor funds supported a legal aid lawyer who helped Francesca clear her record, get a job, and dream of a better life for her and her children.
Also check out the April 11, 2018 Council of State Government Clean Slate Clearinghouse webinar entitled "Reducing Barriers to Employment—Building Partnerships with Civil Legal Aid," which includes a presentation by JGP Director Karen Lash.
Legal aid can improve peoples' health and help states reduce health care costs.
A U.S. Department of Health & Human Services funded medical-legal partnership study concludes: "…civil legal aid services can positively impact individual and population health," including "significant reduction in stress and improvement in health and wellbeing after receiving [legal] services" such as for housing, public and disability benefits, employment, and debt collection problems. Researchers also found integrating legal services into the healthcare setting "drives down healthcare costs."
Legal aid enables states to protect constituents from consumer fraud scams.
Millions of children and adults become consumer fraud victims every year, leading to financial hardship, and even homelessness or bankruptcy. Legal aid helps combat fraud through public education, helping consumers assert their rights when lenders and debt collectors don't follow the law, and correct the harms caused by scammers.
Check out the FTC's website to see how Community Legal Services in Philadelphia helped 84-year old Ms. Dorothy Council with a credit card payment scam.
Referrals Aren't Enough
Identifying new resources for legal aid is critical since we don't come close to meeting the needs of low- or moderate-income people, the elderly, those with disabilities, or others who can't afford legal help. Unlike criminal cases, where there is typically a constitutional right to counsel, there is no right to a lawyer in most civil cases, even when a home, job, custody of a child, or healthcare are in jeopardy.