President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget eliminates funding for the Legal Services Corporation (“LSC”), which provides funding to Legal Action of Wisconsin (“Legal Action”), the LSC grantee that serves Dane County.
In 2016 alone, Legal Action handled over 11,000 cases across the state of Wisconsin on behalf of low-income individuals and families, while having to turn away thousands of eligible people due to already limited resources. With the elimination of federal funding, it is estimated that Legal Action will be able to handle only approximately 50% of its current case load.
As attorneys and officers of the court, we have an obligation to ensure that justice is truly obtainable for all, not just those that can afford it. Part of the DCBA’s mission is to promote an accessible legal system through advocacy and public service. In too many instances, access to our justice system is stymied by a lack of financial resources. The LSC helps fund programs that work to remove barriers to employment, obtain child support orders, prevent homelessness, and protect abuse victims, among others. Dane County, and the nation as a whole, can ill afford to see this type of work go unattended.
Our courts are for all people, not just those who can afford access to them. It is paramount that our justice system protects the most vulnerable of our residents. The leadership of the Dane County Bar Association stands with the Wisconsin State Bar, the American Bar Association, and more than 150 U.S. law firms in urging the restoration of LSC funding in the federal budget.