Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Strking a Blow for the Poor Lawyers

I spent about a year as a Legal Aid lawyer after I got out of law school before I made the lateral move to public defender. Legal Aid provides civil (as opposed to criminal) representation to poor folks. Most groups get their money from a federal agency called the Legal Services Corporation. I did family law (and related proceedings) for domestic violence victims, but other folks in my office represented people in landlord-tenant disputes, debt collection suits, and public benefits proceedings. Many of the more experienced folks pined for the good old days, when they (and other organizations) were able to represent a much larger group of people in more large scale "impact" litigation. But Republican restrictions of the 80s and 90s severely cut down on what LSC-funded groups could do. This week, a federal judge in New York City threw out part of those regulations, which required a group so have separate offices for its LSC and non-LSC funded programs. It's a small victory, but maybe it will lead to further rollbacks.

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