Statement by Legal Services Corporation Board Chairman John G. Levi
Every year on May 1, we observe Law Day, the national celebration of our country’s commitment to the rule of law. This year’s theme, “Realizing the Dream: Equality for All,” speaks directly to the mission of the Legal Services Corporation to ensure equality in something essential to our democracy—access to justice. At its founding, LSC was called upon by Congress to help “provide equal access to the system of justice in our nation” and “to provide high quality legal assistance to those who would be otherwise unable to afford adequate legal counsel.”
In the face of growing poverty and declining funding, our nation’s realization of these goals is in peril. As we have worked to increase funding support for LSC, we have also encouraged the private bar to do more. At national forums on civil legal assistance that we have convened across the country in conjunction with our quarterly board meetings, we have urged greater use of pro bono.
LSC’s national pro bono task force is working to find ways to expand the ranks of lawyers who are willing and able to do pro bono work and to better match those lawyers with the growing unmet civil legal needs of low-income Americans. LSC has also led the effort to broaden and improve the use of technology to help enhance pro bono and to better assist those individuals who must represent themselves as they navigate the civil court system.
On the occasion of Law Day, we at LSC, and members of the bar across the country, are reminded of our special responsibility to see to it that a justice system accessible to all is preserved and passed down to generations of Americans to come. Our ability to meet the needs of our low-income citizens is essential to their continued confidence in our civil justice system. For as Dr. King famously observed 50 years ago, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”