Newsletter – Spring 2014

 

From the Current Issue

CIVIL LEGAL AID PROGRAMS MEASURE THEIR IMPACT

Study Shows Economic Benefits of Civil Legal Aid

Local foundations partnered to release a report last May to inform policymakers and other stakeholders about the tangible economic benefits of legal aid.
The report, Legal Aid in Illinois: Selected Social and Economic Benefits by the Social IMPACT Research Center, provides a snapshot of the economic return legal aid providers produce for their low-income clients. Using a selection of approximately 8,000 cases closed in 2010 by just seven of 38 legal aid providers in the state, researchers found that:

  • Legal aid providers won $49.4 million in monetary awards for low-income clients. Examples of monetary awards are child support and alimony, public benefits such as Social Security, and relief from illegal charges by a landlord.
  • Providers won $11.9 million in benefits paid for by the federal government. These awards were associated with an estimated $9.3 million in demand for goods and services, $5.4 million in household income and 172 non-legal aid jobs.
  • Providers avoided $1.9 million in costs to homeless shelters by preventing or obtaining more time in foreclosures or evictions and obtaining, protecting or increasing rental subsidies.
  • By obtaining protective orders, divorces, child custody and legal recognition for noncitizens experiencing abuse, providers avoided $9.4 million in costs associated with domestic violence to individuals.
  • Overall, each dollar spent on Illinois legal aid by governments and private donors was associated with $1.80 in economic benefits for legal aid clients or other Illinoisans. Total economic benefits from cases closed in 2010 in areas considered by the study exceeded spending on legal aid by $32.1 million.

Across Illinois, nonprofit legal aid providers offer free or low-cost legal advice and representation to low-income, disadvantaged Illinoisans with civil legal problems who cannot afford a lawyer. These legal aid providers afford access to the justice system for clients facing threats to the health and safety of themselves and their families.

“As funders, we see that legal aid is a good investment of government and private dollars,” said Karen Hasara, president of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation. “This data affirms the good that legal aid
organizations do for their low-income clients, as well as for the community at large.”

In addition to the economic benefits highlighted in the study, legal aid helps ensure that low-income, disadvantaged people understand their rights; have the assistance needed to efficiently resolve their legal problems; and feel they are treated fairly and equally under the law.


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Local foundations partnered to release a report last May to inform policymakers and other stakeholders about the tangible economic benefits of legal aid.

The report, Legal Aid in Illinois: Selected Social and Economic Benefits by the Social IMPACT Research Center, provides a snapshot of the economic return legal aid providers produce for their low-income clients. Using a selection of approximately 8,000 cases closed in 2010 by just seven of 38 legal aid providers in the state, researchers found that:

  • Legal aid providers won $49.4 million in monetary awards for low-income clients. Examples of monetary awards are child support and alimony, public benefits such as Social Security, and relief from illegal charges by a landlord.
  • Providers won $11.9 million in benefits paid for by the federal government. These awards were associated with an estimated $9.3 million in demand for goods and services, $5.4 million in household income and 172 non-legal aid jobs.
  • Providers avoided $1.9 million in costs to homeless shelters by preventing or obtaining more time in foreclosures or evictions and obtaining, protecting or increasing rental subsidies.
  • By obtaining protective orders, divorces, child custody and legal recognition for noncitizens experiencing abuse, providers avoided $9.4 million in costs associated with domestic violence to individuals.
  • Overall, each dollar spent on Illinois legal aid by governments and private donors was associated with $1.80 in economic benefits for legal aid clients or other Illinoisans. Total economic benefits from cases closed in 2010 in areas considered by the study exceeded spending on legal aid by $32.1 million.

Across Illinois, nonprofit legal aid providers offer free or low-cost legal advice and representation to low-income, disadvantaged Illinoisans with civil legal problems who cannot afford a lawyer. These legal aid providers afford access to the justice system for clients facing threats to the health and safety of themselves and their families.

“As funders, we see that legal aid is a good investment of government and private dollars,” said Karen Hasara, president of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation. “This data affirms the good that legal aid
organizations do for their low-income clients, as well as for the community at large.”

In addition to the economic benefits highlighted in the study, legal aid helps ensure that low-income, disadvantaged people understand their rights; have the assistance needed to efficiently resolve their legal problems; and feel they are treated fairly and equally under the law.