A new study released by the Access to Justice Coalition paints a sobering picture of civil legal needs among low-income Oregonians.
- 84% of people with a legal problem did not receive legal help of any kind.
- Only 49% of survey participants had heard of Legal Aid.
- The average low-income household in Oregon experienced 5.4 civil legal problems over the last year.
- Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault suffer civil legal problems at
significantly higher rates compared to the general population.
- Oregon’s community of people with disabilities disproportionately experiences legal problems and is disproportionately low-income.
- 30% of all survey participants experienced at least one form of discrimination.
- On average, participants felt that the civil legal system treated people fairly “some of the time,” and that the civil legal system could help solve problems slightly less than “some of the time.”
What Can We Do?
The Oregon Law Foundation has issued this call to arms:
Talk about the importance of access to justice. Let people know that civil legal aid is there for those who need help. Share this report. The information in this report is not widely known and it is hard to solve problems that no one is talking about. Let’s amplify the conversation.
Oregon has broad bipartisan support for legal aid on both the state and federal levels. As a community, let’s continue our sustained focus on a fair and accessible legal system–a system where our neighbors can know their rights and get the help they need.
Fund Legal Aid
Legal aid is a state, federal, and private partnership. Legal aid receives funding from the State of Oregon, the federal government (via the Legal Services Corporation), private foundations, Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (via the Oregon Law Foundation), and private donations (via the Campaign for Equal Justice). The single best way to increase access to justice is to create more legal aid attorney positions.
Start Helping Legal Aid Today – It’s Free!
Lawyers can help fund Legal Aid by simply moving their IOLTA accounts to a bank or credit union paying a higher rate of interest.
Moving your IOLTA account is easy
- Review the list of leadership banks and credit unions on the Oregon Law Foundation website.
- Contact your institution of choice.
- Set up your new IOLTA account.
- Follow the steps in the Professional Liability Fund checklist to close your old account. From the PLF home page, select Practice Management > Forms > Trust Accounting > Closing Your IOLTA Account.
Refer to the contact names and telephone numbers on the Oregon Law Foundation website.
Because moving your account can mean big bucks – up to 175 times more in net interest to fund access to justice. Keep in mind these same leadership institutions not only pay more, they waive service fees!
Other Ways to Help
Visit the Campaign for Equal Justice to learn about donations, endowments, and other steps you can take to help. Remember to spread the word – about the issues raised in the study and the availability of services through Legal Aid.
All Rights Reserved 2019 Beverly Michaelis