By Corey Shdaimah, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, and academic coordinator of the University of Maryland’s MSW/JD dual degree program.
In the flurry of budget discussions and funding cuts, money to the Legal Services Corporation is again on the chopping block, estimated to result in turning away 235,000 people across the country. This comes when estimates already show that for each eligible client served, another is turned away from LSC-funded programs and at least 80% of civil legal needs go unmet. Legal services for low-income clients are no luxury; they are often necessary to ensure basic survival. Funding cuts such as these always come at a time when such services are most needed. If we can shore up corporations and financial institutions, why can’t we shore up people, communities, and their faith in our legal system? In the U.S., access to justice without lawyers is largely a hollow promise.