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March 20, 2017

Statement of Chancellor Deborah R. Gross Opposing Proposal to Eliminate Legal Services Funding

In response to President Trump’s proposal to cut all funding to Legal Services Corporation (LSC), Chancellor Deborah R. Gross today issued the following statement on behalf of the 12,000 members of the Philadelphia Bar Association:

“Eliminating funding for legal services poses a threat to our entire community. Denying funding for civil legal aid prevents access to justice for all. The Philadelphia Bar Association has a longstanding history of support for the provision of civil legal aid, which helps ensure fairness for all in our justice system, especially those living at or below the poverty level.

“Philadelphia has the highest rate of poverty among the ten largest cities in the United States and civil legal aid has proven to be an invaluable and effective tool to fight poverty and protect the safety and well-being of low-income families.

“Civil legal aid provides equal access to the law, delivers legal assistance in the most economical and effective way and has a positive economic impact on local communities.

“We are proud of the significant social and economic impact that civil legal aid has on our community. In Pennsylvania, studies have shown that such aid yields an investment return of approximately $11 for every $1 spent in communities where it is offered. Moreover, across the country, civil legal aid has had a major impact in reducing taxpayer costs by preventing homelessness, securing health benefits, and averting harm from domestic violence. Providing civil legal aid is a smart investment that saves money and strengthens low-income communities.

“LSC funding has been cut in recent years while demand for these essential services continues to increase. National and local studies have documented that only 20 percent, at best, of those in need are able to obtain civil legal aid and for each person served by LSC recipients another is turned away for lack of resources. It is imperative that legal services be adequately funded and we will continue to urge the rejection of any attempts to eliminate or decrease LSC funding in the coming budget cycle.”

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