Legal aid is the least funded and most cost-effective way to address poverty in America.
A Lack of Funding
There aren’t enough attorneys because there isn’t enough funding. If you add up the total amount spent in the entire United States by all public and charitable sources, it amounts to less than the cost of one jet bomber. 2
Due to the lack of funding, countries like Senegal, Malawi, and Nigeria all rate better in access to civil justice than the United States. All dark colored countries on this map are ranked higher than us by the World Justice Project. 3
This Means There’s Usually No Help
When Your Property is Seized…
When Sewage Invades Your Home…
When You’re Trying to Escape Abuse…
When Your Identity is Stolen…
There Are No Consequences
Since there’s usually no help – bad people, companies, and agencies are able to violate the law with impunity. Due to the lack of legal aid attorneys, the chances they will ever be punished for their misconduct is minuscule. The costs of defending the sporadic suit are certainly less than the money saved by violating the law. As a practical matter, the law does not protect the poor.
Without the threat of enforcement, illegal conduct proliferates. Slumlords, abusers, creditors and more continually violate the rights of the poor. As a result, low-income Americans face about 260% more unaddressed legal problems than middle-class Americans.4
We Can Change It
If we work together, we can make the law work for everyone.