From an op-ed in today’s Baltimore Sun by Maryland Legal Aid board member Erek Barron:
This just in: Maryland civil legal service programs not only benefit the poor but also save the state millions per year. Legal assistance to low-income Marylanders is a significant economic boost to the state and benefits more than just those receiving aid, according to a report just released by the Maryland Judiciary’s Access to Justice Commission.
Legal services mean a lot more than just helping people without means get access to the courts. For example, these services help low-income residents receive the government benefits to which they are entitled; prevent homelessness by avoiding eviction; and help protect against domestic violence.
In 2012, Maryland legal service programs preserved or found housing for almost 1,000 individuals and helped obtain 2,825 civil protective orders for clients. But the economic impact of legal services for the poor went far beyond the families helped, creating $190 million in total economic impact, including $12.6 million in economic stimulus to the state, $3.7 million in state expenditures saved, and $882,096 in tax revenue.
Economic impact studies in a number of other states have reported similar results, potentially changing the way these services will be viewed going forward. For example, a 2011 study of Virginia legal aid programs found a $5.27 return for every dollar invested. Another study, released last month, found that legal aid programs in Ohio netted a $109 million total economic impact to the state. The provision of civil legal services for the indigent can no longer be seen simply as a “feel good” initiative but also as an important economic tool.
To read the entire column, click here (behind a pay wall).
The Maryland Legal Services Corporation announced its 2012 legal services awardees, to be honored at MLSC’s annual awards reception, Celebrating Thirty Years, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel.
Herbert S. Garten will receive the Robert M. Bell Medal for Access to Justice, named for the chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals. Peter A. Holland of the Holland Law Firm will receive the Arthur W. Machen, Jr. Award for his significant contributions in the area of consumer law. The Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award will go to Brenda Bratton Blom, professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and Lisae C. Jordan, acting executive director of Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. The William L. Marbury Outstanding Advocate Award for a non-attorney who has demonstrated outstanding service representing the rights and legal needs of low-income persons will be presented to John Wheeler, an intake specialist and paralegal at the Maryland Disability Law Center for the past 30 years. The Maryland Office of the Attorney General has been named as this year’s recipient of the Herbert S. Garten Public Citizen Award for its long-standing leadership in access to justice initiatives.
MLSC was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1982 to receive and distribute funds to nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal assistance to low-income persons. From its inception, MLSC has made grants totaling over $164 million to help provide services in nearly 2 million legal matters for Maryland’s families in areas of family, housing, consumer, employment, health care and other civil legal matters.
Posted in awards, Maryland Legal Services Corp.
Tagged Brenda Bratton Blom, Herbert S. Garten, John Wheeler, Lisae C. Jordan, Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Maryland Disability Law Center, Maryland Legal Services Corp., Maryland Office of the Attorney General, Peter A. Holland, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law