The Legal Services Corporation

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Your government at work…and the result is justice for all.

Before 1974, low-income Americans with a legal problem involving civil law were mostly on their own. Then Congress established the Legal Services Corporation (LSC).

LSC is headed by a board of presidentially appointed directors and funded by congressional appropriations. Its main purpose is to finance local legal aid programs that assist individuals who might not otherwise be able to afford a lawyer to handle civil proceedings.

This objective is achieved by requiring each local legal service program to compete for grants. For fiscal year 2007, LSC is requesting approximately $411 million from Congress in order to provide funding for nearly 140 programs.

Since appropriations cover only part of what’s needed, state and local governments, bar associations, and businesses supply additional funding, as do community donors and charitable organizations. Private attorneys also volunteer pro bono services.

Some of the problems legal aid can help with include consumer complaints, civil rights violations and family law issues. To be eligible for the assistance, your income must fall within 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. There are legal aid offices in every county and congressional district in the US. If you qualify, services are free.

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