LSC UPDATES | JULY 2020

EVICTED AUTHOR MATTHEW DESMOND AND REP. TOM EMMER JOIN LSC FOR COVID-19 VIRTUAL BRIEFING ON EVICTIONS

(L-R) Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-6) and Prof. Matthew Desmond

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Matthew Desmond and Rep. Tom Emmer (MN-6) joined leaders from legal aid organizations for a virtual briefing on evictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic on June 22. The briefing explored the importance of civil legal aid for families vulnerable to housing loss due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Matthew Desmond, Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology at Princeton University and author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, joined LSC President Ron Flagg to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to spark an unprecedented spike of evictions across the country. 

“Access to full legal counsel helps your case, it helps you immensely,” Desmond explained, citing research across the country that shows the difference access to an attorney makes for individuals and communities.   
 
He added: “Studies that have looked at the effect of [having] a lawyer in Massachusetts, in New York, Philadelphia and other cities have found that this kind of upstream intervention is much cheaper than the downstream consequences of eviction, especially in terms of shelter costs and homelessness services and additional kinds of fallout of eviction.”

Rep. Emmer and LSC Board Chair John G. Levi also offered remarks on the housing crisis.

"Over the past few months, members of our communities have faced financial and legal hurdles like never before," Rep. Emmer said. "This COVID-19 crisis has caused families to lose the income that they depend on. Households across our country have gone from financially stable to seemingly insecure overnight."

He thanked the legal aid community for its efforts on behalf of vulnerable communities: "Americans are in desperate need of advocacy, for lawyers like you who fight every day to keep these families from being uprooted and displaced."

LSC Vice President for Grants Management Lynn Jennings moderated a discussion with civil legal providers and a judge who are bracing for a surge in eviction rates. The speakers included Annamarie Johnson, Executive Director, Nevada Legal Services; Edward Josephson, Director of Litigation and Housing, Legal Service NYC; Judge Sergio L. De Leon, Justice of the Peace Court 5, Tarrant County, Texasand Maria Thomas-Jones, Executive Director, Legal Aid of Northwest Texas.

Watch the briefing

LSC RECEIVES LETTER OF SUPPORT FROM BUSINESS LEADERS

In June, corporate general counsel from 204 companies sent a letter to the House and Senate appropriations committees supporting funding for LSC. The companies represented include Amazon, Delta Air Lines, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Target Corporation and Verizon Communications.

"Equal access to justice is a foundational promise of our country and a bulwark against severe hardship for low-income Americans, particularly in times of national crisis," it states. 

The letter goes on to explain civil legal aid's importance in helping people protect their health, home, income and family. This help is particularly important amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

LSC previously received letters of support for its FY 2021 budget request from the Conference of Chief Justices, the ABA and leaders representing law firms in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  

Read the letter

LAW STUDENTS HELP RURAL COMMUNITIES THROUGH THE RURAL SUMMER LEGAL CORPS PROGRAM

Thirty-five law students are spending the summer helping address the access-to-justice crisis facing individuals living in rural areas. The Rural Summer Legal Corps (RSLC) program, a partnership between Equal Justice Works and LSC, connects law students with LSC grantees to address pressing legal issues.

This year, fellows from 30 law schools are working remotely at 31 LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations, providing legal assistance to people in rural areas affected by the coronavirus pandemic and other challenges. This year's projects include helping survivors of Hurricane Harvey, educating migrant farmworkers about their housing rights and representing victims of domestic violence in protective order actions.
Meet the 2020 RSLC fellows

LSC BOARD MEMBER LAURIE MIKVA RECEIVES AWARD

This July, LSC Board Member Laurie Mikva was honored by the Chicago Bar Association with the Leonard Jay Schrager Award of Excellence. The award recognizes exemplary attorneys in academia who have made significant and lasting contributions to improving access to justice for the less fortunate.

Mikva has devoted her entire career to improving access to justice for society’s most vulnerable populations, from her early work with the Maryland Public Defender’s Office to her 15 years with the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation.

This award celebrates her significant contributions as an educator at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. She is a leading voice at the law school for pro bono and a strong advocate for her students to include pro bono in their legal careers, no matter which career path they pursue.
Learn more

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