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November 6, 2009

STATE BAR ASSOCIATION CALLS ON CONGRESS TO LIFT FEDERAL RESTRICTIONS ON CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES FUNDING

President Getnick's Letter Urges Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to Ensure that Service Providers Obtain the Necessary Resources to Assist Those in Need

In a letter sent today, New York State Bar Association President Michael E. Getnick (Getnick Livingston Atkinson & Priore, LLP of Utica and of counsel to Getnick & Getnick of New York City) urged United States Senators Charles Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand to work with members of Congress to remove federal restrictions on civil legal services funding and to support critically-needed funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC).

"One of the very highest priorities of the New York State Bar Association is increasing the availability of counsel in civil cases for those of limited means," wrote Getnick. "While the Association supports maximizing the funds made available to the Legal Services Corporation, we are particularly concerned about the unreasonable restrictions that have been imposed on the use of those funds."

The House of Representatives and the Senate have each passed its own version of the FY 2010 Commerce, Justice & Science (CJS) appropriations bill. A conference committee will soon be established to resolve the differences in the legislation between the two houses. President Getnick's letter calls on Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to ensure that Senate language removing most restrictions on non-federal funds is included in the final, agreed-upon legislation.

"The position of the New York State Bar Association is that Congress should eliminate all restrictions on legal services funds," Getnick continued.  "The Senate's language would significantly increase the ability of legal services organizations to make use of their resources in a far more efficient and effective manner. In short, the organizations will be able to do far more with the resources they have.

"I am asking you to urge Senator Mikulski and other members of the conference committee to do everything they can to keep the Senate language in the bill and, thereby, enhance the availability of legal services to those in need," concluded Getnick.

To view a full copy of President Getnick's letter to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, please visit http://www.nysba.org/SenateLtr11-6-09.

Founded in 1876, the 76,000-member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New York and the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. The State Bar's programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.

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