LSC UPDATES | SEPT. 2020

LSC VETERANS TASK FORCE HOLDS INAUGURAL FIELD HEARING

Rep. Greg Steube (FL-17) and leaders from law, health care and veterans services joined LSC on September 21 for the inaugural field hearing of the LSC Veterans Task Force

The Task Force is working to increase access to justice for veterans. Civil legal problems — from threatened evictions to other-than-honorable discharges from the military — are often the greatest obstacles to a veteran’s health, housing, and productivity. In 2017, 71% of households with veterans or other military personnel reported experiencing a civil legal problem in the past year.

The virtual field hearing explored how legal aid can remove these legal barriers to veterans’ well-being and financial stability. 

LSC Board Chair John G. Levi; LSC Board Member, Task Force Co-Chair John G. Malcolm; and DLA Piper Pro Bono Partner Lisa Dewey offered opening remarks. DLA Piper is providing financial and logistical support to the Task Force. Rep. Steube, a veteran himself, shared his thoughts on the importance of access to justice for the country’s veterans.

"The very last thing veterans should worry about is access to basic legal services," said Rep. Steube. He noted that veterans "deserve the best representation that our country can provide."

The first panel, "Putting It All Together: How Coordinated Services Improve Outcomes for Veterans Experiencing Challenges," examined how the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center and the VA Connecticut’s Errera Community Care Center effectively partner to improve outcomes for veterans receiving treatment. 

Leaders from legal services and veterans organizations joined the second panel, "Building Strong Community Networks for Veterans." Panelists discussed community network models to identify best practices for connecting veterans to the services they need. 

The final panel, “Separating from the Military and the Policy Implications of ‘Bad Paper,’” considered how discharge classification decisions affect veterans’ access to Veterans Affairs and other benefits. 

Watch the field hearing
Learn more about the Veterans Task Force

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND BUSINESS AND LEGAL AID LEADERS JOIN LSC FOR ACCESS TO JUSTICE FORUM

(L-R) Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) and Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-1) 
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-1) and leaders from the business community and civil legal aid communities joined LSC for a virtual Access to Justice forum on August 5. 

Rep. Haaland and LSC Board Chair John G. Levi provided opening remarks on the value of legal aid and how legal services organizations are responding to the pressures of COVID-19. 

Rep. Haaland thanked LSC for its “continued work to make our country a better place, especially for those who don’t have the financial means to access legal services.”

Leaders from legal aid organizations and a physician discussed the unique challenges faced by indigenous populations during the coronavirus pandemic. They explained the disproportionate rates of infection and job loss that have affected these communities. 

The second panel explored the role of the business community in bridging the justice gap. 
 
“Inequality has a direct impact on the quality of our economy,” explained Teresa Wynn Rosenborough, Executive Vice President – General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Home Depot. “If we can use the legal system to help close the gaps in our economy, close the gaps in access to justice, close the gaps in access to basic human needs and rights, we can also make our economy run better and more effectively.”
 
Ivan Fong, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of 3M echoed this sentiment, remarking that the justice gap “erodes credibility and trust on which businesses need to perform and to grow, and to hire and sell products and services in a functioning economy.”
 
Senator Sinema and ABA President Patricia Lee Refo also offered remarks on the importance of equal access to justice, especially as Americans are facing severe financial pressures brought on by the pandemic.
Watch the forum

LSC LAUNCHES ACCESS TO JUSTICE PODCAST

LSC recently launched Talk Justice, a new podcast featuring leaders from the legal community, business and government exploring key aspects of access to justice.

“LSC’s Podcast, Talk Justice, will highlight the reforms and innovations we need to improve access to justice in America,” said LSC President Ron Flagg. “Our podcast will showcase leaders from government, law, technology, and business who are taking concrete steps today to make real America’s promise of equal justice under law.”

In the inaugural episode of Talk Justice, legal technology experts discussed how portals, no-code automation, online classrooms and other developments are expanding and improving pro bono efforts. 

For the second episode, Jim Sandman, LSC President Emeritus, was joined by leading jurists from two states in the vanguard of regulatory reform: Utah Supreme Court Justice Constandinos "Deno" Himonas and Arizona Supreme Court Vice Chief Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer. The discussion on regulatory reform efforts also included Upsolve Co-Founder Rohan Pavuluri and William Henderson, Professor of Law at Indiana University Maurer School of Law and the editor of Legal Evolution

An upcoming Talk Justice episode will feature LSC President Ron Flagg discussing the importance of civil legal aid with the co-founders of the bipartisan Congressional Access to Civil Legal Services Caucus, Reps. Susan Brooks (IN-5) and Joe Kennedy (MA-4). 

Talk Justice episodes are available on Spotify, Apple, iHeartRadio and other popular podcast platforms. The podcast is sponsored by LSC’s Leaders Council.

Listen now

LSC AWARDS MORE THAN $4 MILLION TO STRENGTHEN PRO BONO

In August, LSC announced that 19 legal aid organizations would be receiving Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants totaling $4,347,185 to expand pro bono legal services to low-income individuals.

Many of the projects seek to remove barriers to success facing low-income Americans. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services’ project will help low-income tenants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic who experience security deposit theft.  

Pro bono funding for Bay Area Legal Services will allow the organization to better meet the legal needs of disaster survivors in the Tampa Bay region. Georgia Legal Services Program will use its grant to reach low-income individuals living in rural areas of the state who otherwise have limited access to legal help.

Several of the funded projects will focus on increasing the recruitment and training of pro bono attorneys and more effectively working with existing partners. For example, Legal Services Vermont will use its grant to build a coordinated and centralized infrastructure for statewide pro bono efforts.

Learn more about PBIF-funded projects

NEWS FROM THE FIELD

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