The Legal Services Restrictions: Lawyers in Florida, New York, Virginia, and Oregon Describe the Costs
Posted: 8 Jan 2000
Three years have passed since the 107th Congress imposed comprehensive restrictions on the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and its lawyers who provide free representation to the nation's poor in civil legal matters. As legal services programs around the nation struggle to carry out their mission to provide high quality legal representation, the restrictions continue to cause real harm to the individuals and communities that rely on legal services lawyers. Injustices that cannot be addressed; clients who cannot be represented; precious funds raised through strenuous efforts that must be squandered on duplicative rent, furniture, and computers; and attorneys' fees that must be forfeited.
In this Paper, I first describe my own experience as a legal services attorney in attempting to represent clients fully despite LSC's demand, based on the 1996 restrictions, that I either abandon them or forfeit my job. I then describe the circumstances of other legal services lawyers in Oregon, Virginia, and Florida who are endeavoring to provide high-quality legal representation to their clients while complying rigorously with the requirements embodied in the restrictions. In assessing these stories, it is useful first to consider the scope of the restrictions and the response of the LSC programs nationally following their enactment.
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