Describing the value of legal services, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan once said,
As a society, we do not do nearly as well as we ought to in enabling low-income, and for that matter middle-income, Americans to get the legal assistance that they need to vindicate their legal rights. And all of those costs to the individual that come from not having a lawyer and not being able to access justice, all of those costs work their way back to ordinary taxpayers, the people who pay for the hospital emergency rooms, and the homeless shelters, and so forth. So that, in fact, studies show that the money spent on legal aid, on providing lawyers to poor people who need them, end up saving double, triple, quadruple the amount spent on those services. And just as important, the inability of low-income Americans to get legal aid, and in that way to vindicate their legal entitlements, undermines the legitimacy of courts, the legitimacy of our entire legal system, and runs counter to our national commitment to the rule of law. Every judge in this country owes you a debt. Every lawyer in this country owes you a debt. Every citizen of this country owes you a debt. But it’s quite obvious that you need help. You need increased funding. You need partnerships with law schools, and law firms, and businesses. You need the very best ideas for using new technologies and for creating new service delivery models. You need simplified and streamlined legal processes so that your work can achieve the appropriate results. Did I say you need increased funding?
The Trump Administration, however, has proposed to eliminate funding to Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The proposal has generated a sharp response from many in the legal community. Recently, 32 Attorneys General from across the country, including Delaware Attorney Matthew P. Denn, joined in writing to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations in “united, bipartisan opposition to the Trump Administration’s proposal to eliminate all federal funding for Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and legal services for rural and low-income Americans.”
As a former staff attorney for Legal Services Corporation of Delaware (LSCD), Justice Kagan’s words and the efforts of Attorney General Matthew Denn have particular significance to me. I have seen firsthand how important the representation provided by Legal Services Corporation Delaware is to the individuals involved, to the court system, and to the community as a whole. For more information on LSCD and the services it provides in Delaware, please go to Legal Services Corporation of Delaware.
Leslie Spoltore is a Partner with the law firm Fox Rothschild LLP and a volunteer attorney for Delaware Volunteer Legal Services and the Office of the Child Advocate. Leslie practices in Fox Rothschild’s Wilmington, Delaware office. You can reach Leslie at (302) 622-4203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.