Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
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lbang-jensen@nysba.org

February 14, 2011

NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION TAKES LEAD IN ABA ACTION

Resolution opposes cuts to legal services funding for low-income litigants 

The American Bar Association today passed a resolution, initiated by the New York State Bar Association, opposing cuts to the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in the current fiscal year and urging Congress to provide adequate funds to address the legal needs of low-income litigants.

The resolution was approved unanimously at the ABA's mid-year meeting in Atlanta. Its 25 co-sponsors include state bar associations and other ABA member organizations. The text of the resolution reads:

RESOLVED, that the American Bar Association opposes any proposal to cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation for the Fiscal Year 2011, and urges Congress to support increased funding of the Corporation to the level necessary to provide needed services to low income Americans.

The House Appropriations Committee has proposed a $70 million cut in the LSC budget for the current fiscal year. The proposed reduction may increase as the budget process continues.

Commenting on the House proposal, the New York State Bar Association President Stephen P. Younger said, "We are in an access to justice crisis in this country. The fiscal crisis has turned our courts into hospital emergency rooms leaving millions of Americans litigating without benefit of counsel. This is not the justice system we believe in." 

"We are so pleased that the ABA has passed this critical resolution and call on Congress to restore sufficient funding to meet demonstrated legal needs," he added.

Each year, more than two million New Yorkers go to court without a lawyer.  In some courts, such as Housing Court in New York City, more than 98 percent of individuals are unrepresented by a lawyer. 

Founded in 1876, the 77,000-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.