The Justice Gap: How Big Law Is Failing Legal Aid

, The American Lawyer


At best, the nation's biggest and wealthiest firms donate 0.1 percent of revenue to legal aid, an institution in crisis. Isn't it time for more of them to pledge serious money?

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What's being said

  • nootkabear

    covnbaeyer and Prof. Mai Linh Spencer, Academic Director, Lawyers for Americahave made very good points. I cannot help but wonder while reading this very informative and well written article, how lawyers and lawfirms can treat pro se litigants with such contempt, when they are really doing nothing to see that Legal Aid helps those in need.When people are forced into a corner, many of them will learn as much as they can, and go into he court pro se. The way these pro se litigants are treated is dispicable. I understand all of the many arguments about why pro se litigants should not be allowed into the courtroom, but at the same time, attorney‘s fees have become totally outrageous for common people. To deny them any form of justice should be viewed as criminal. That is not what our country was founded on.Statistics have shown that the American justice system is worse than most third world country when it comes to justice for the poor. That leaves these people even more vulerable to injustice.Thanks for such a great article!

  • covnbaeyer

    What percentage of the IOLTA donations are big firm? My guess is that they carry the bulk of that number. I would also be curious to know whether legal services orgs find in kind/pro bono hours or $ donations more valuable.

  • Prof. Mai Linh Spencer, Academic Director, Lawyers for America

    Thank you for this well-researched article, which I hope will serve as a call to action. One simple and cost-effective method to provide significant legal services to the poor is for a firm to sponsor a Lawyers for America fellow. For less than $57,000 total, a firm can fund a 3L to extern for 8 months at a partnering legal services org, then return to that same org after graduation and bar exam to work for an entire calendar year. That‘s 20 months of work directed at closing the justice gap. For more information, see com/lawyersforamericaThe program currently operates out of UC Hastings, where I am its Academic Director. We hope to see it spread to other schools and areas, so that we can eventually close the justice gap. It would be wonderful to have private firms join our effort in this relatively modest, but very meaningful, way.

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