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Legal Aid's Ongoing Struggles in 2011

Legal aid is threatened in this country, according to The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog (by way of The National Law Journal). The post notes that legal-aid lawyers "know the knife's edge, working long hours for low pay at organizations that are often underappreciated, underfunded, and undersupplied." Many of the programs that managed to stay afloat in 2010 are "bracing for an even leaner 2011," in fact, the "most dire circumstances in decades." We've written about legal-aid challenges in the past, but things certainly haven't improved.

Pressure_thumbSo what's the cause? It shouldn't be a surprise that legal aid is facing "the perfect storm of financial scarcity." Karen Sloan, author of the NLJ piece, evaluates the repercussions -- the Legal Aid Society, largest such group in the country, for example, saw a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking assistance last year, but the organization can only help one of every nine people seeking assistance, all the while facing budget cuts and substantial job reductions.

Sound off in the comments: what do you think can be done to salvage legal aid in the United States? With so many continuing to face financial hardship, it's a shame that legal-aid services can't be bolstered to better match demand.

Brendan McKenna is Law.com's news editor.

Posted by Laurel Newby on January 7, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

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