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The Justice in Government Project Toolkit: Getting Results with Legal Aid

The  big idea behind The Justice in Government Project (JGP) is simple: many government programs aimed at increasing opportunities for education, employment, housing, health care, and improving public safety and family stability are more effective and efficient when they include legal aid alongside other supportive services. Too often those programs do not include legal aid but could achieve even better results and cost savings if they did.

This Toolkit helps government policymakers, grant administrators, legal profession leaders, social service providers, and legal aid and other advocates improve the quality and efficiency of government programs, increase access to justice, and achieve policy outcomes and priorities:

  • Module 1 presents curated research briefs relevant to legal aid and common government policy priorities such as reducing homelessness, helping veterans, and removing barriers to employment for job seekers; 
  • Module 2 identifies in our Grants Matrix and FAQs those state-administered executive branch funding sources that can support legal aid; 
  • Module 3 highlights examples from states that are working with executive branch policymakers to incorporate legal help to solve problems for the people government seeks to serve; and
  • Module 4 is a potpourri of additional tools to help connect a wide range of policy priorities to legal aid, including via webinars and data sources.

The Toolkit also has an archive for all the federal Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable information and materials.

This Toolkit will continue to grow. To hear about updates and new tools or to provide feedback, send an email to jgp@american.edu.

The Justice in Government Project (JGP) is part of the Justice Programs Office at the American University School of Public Affairs.

The big idea behind The Justice in Government Project is simple: many government programs aimed at increasing opportunities for education, employment, housing, health care, and improving public safety and family stability are more effective and efficient when they include legal aid alongside other supportive services. Too often those programs do not include legal aid but could achieve even better results and cost savings if they did.

We collaborate with executive branch policymakers and legal profession leaders in several states including AZ, CA, HI, MS, OK, SC, and WI, to achieve stated policy priorities with existing federal block grant funds that allow spending on legal aid and other already appropriated funds. We focus on embedding legal services in government programs when empirical evidence demonstrates that it works. This can include enhancing services to jobseekers using American Job Centers, addressing unmet legal needs of crime victims, helping children of a parent with opioid use disorder, and ensuring veterans access benefits to which they’re entitled.

This toolkit aims to offer this knowledge and state plans to demonstrate the importance of legal aid.

The JGP thanks its funders: the Open Society Foundations, the Public Welfare Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation.

The Justice in Government also thanks the Legal Aid Association of California, Office of Civil Legal Aid in Washington State, Massachusetts Legal Aid Corporation, Michigan Poverty Law Program, Social Finance, Pew Research Center, National Association of Victims Assistance Administrators, Self-Represented Litigation Network, and federal staff at the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Corporation for National and Community Service for their support, edits, and contributions. Thanks also to our partners at the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, and the California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Oklahoma, Hawaii, and Mississippi Access to Justice Commissions, and executive directors and staff of countless legal aid programs throughout the country.

The Justice in Government Project

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