Anti-Poverty Impact of Civil Legal Aid

Recounts the history of anti-poverity civil legal aid and finds that it helps clients avoid costs, stabilize their lives, receive benefits, and rise from poverty. (65-page PDF)

Item details

Focus organization: CNEJL
Publisher: CNEJL
Date (approx.): May 1, 2015
Actual title: "The Anti-Poverty Impact of Civil Legal Aid"
Creator: Houseman, Alan
Format: Report
State: FL, MD, National, NY, OH, TX, and VA
Law type: Civil
Topics: Poverty law
Content availability: Full text: PDF here
File: Download
External link:
Last modified: 2023-01-02 04:53



To learn about the anti-poverty impact of civil legal aid programs in the United States, we undertook a review of:
1. Research on the various ways that legal services, legal advice and legal information are delivered.
2. Studies of Social Return on Investment (SROI).
3. Studies showing cost savings to states from civil legal aid.
4. State and program outcome reports in the five states and several other programs which do them.

Since the academic research on civil legal aid and the data available on the benefits of legal assistance does not capture everything that legal aid lawyers do to reduce poverty, we also did a
survey of a few civil legal aid programs and added some examples that illustrate a current focus on anti-poverty advocacy.

We draw two clusters of conclusions from this review and survey.

First, there is little rigorous research that has actually attempted to document the effect of civil legal assistance on impoverished clients and communities. There is little quantitative research on civil legal aid and anti-poverty, and even less qualitative research.

Second, however, civil legal aid programs in the United States:
• Help clients connect to benefits, services, employment and housing that help lift them out of poverty.
• Help clients avert costs that could drive them into poverty or increase their existing poverty.
• Help clients stabilize their lives so that they can move out of poverty.
• Help clients who are entangled in the administrative systems and thus prevented from receiving benefits and services to which they are entitled.