Legal Times, October 6, 2003 – Alicia Upano
To the city's poor residents, justice is rationed every day.
So says a report released by the D.C. Bar Foundation at its 25th anniversary party on Sept. 23 at the offices of Crowell & Moring.
The report calls on the legal community to bring more money into the civil legal assistance system, work together effectively, and increase pro bono work by private attorneys.
The report outlines substantial gaps in legal service delivery, claiming that too few residents receive help and that the range of services offered is too narrow. For example, of the 25 nonprofit providers in the District, few or non provide service covering the biggest challenges to the poor: affordable housing and family law. Also lacking: preventative and transactional work, and multilingual services.
With inadequate funding and staffing, many organizations find that they lack critical infrastructure, such as administrative and support staff and technological upgrades. Retention of staff attorneys is also a significant problem, the report says, pointing to low salaries. The average starting salary at a nonprofit is $35,000.
The D.C. Bar Foundation commissioned Julia Gordon to research and write the report. Gordon was formerly a senior staff attorney at the Center for Law and Social Policy and is now a consultant on equal justice projects.
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