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Paladin

Why I’m Supporting a $1B+ FY 2024 Funding Appropriation for the Legal Services Corporation

It was an honor to be asked to submit written testimony for LSC’s FY 2024 budget request to the U.S. Congress. Below is my letter of support to the Legal Services Corporation’s Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs, Carol Bergman, on behalf of Paladin.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

Dear Ms. Bergman,

We appreciate the invitation from President Ronald Flagg and the Legal Services Corporation Board of Directors to provide input into the FY 2024 LSC funding request to Congress.

At Paladin, a justice technology company, our mission is to expand access to justice by helping law firms, in-house teams, and bar associations increase pro bono capacity. The need is urgent: currently, 92% of low-income Americans’ civil legal issues are either inadequately or not met at all, and legal services organizations must turn away nearly half of those who qualify for pro bono due to a lack of resources. An appropriation of over $1B for LSC for FY 2024 is essential to equipping LSC grantees with the teams and resources they need to adequately serve those in need. Additional funding would also broaden their ability to engage with other community partners such as law firms, technology companies, and the courts, to scale their reach.

In analyzing tens of thousands of recent pro bono connections on Paladin across over 40 LSC grantees, we find low-income Americans currently grappling with housing issues, domestic violence situations, employment challenges, family issues, and more. While the pandemic inspired grantees to develop creative solutions like rural “justice buses” and create new technology initiatives to serve those from afar, proper funding is crucial to ensuring that millions of Americans are able to access the legal resources, advice, and assistance they desperately need, in real time.

One of the projects that we are proud to be co-developing in partnership with Legal Aid Chicago is a tech integration with one of the leading case management platforms. This collaboration will more efficiently connect grantees’ pro bono clients to private sector attorneys who are well-aligned to assist, share data about the case and volunteer to facilitate more powerful matches, and ultimately lead to increased pro bono assistance across the country. These innovative projects, and the teams who create and scale them, require significant investment if we are serious about addressing the justice gap.

LSC grantees are on the front lines of our access to justice crisis and have done so much with so little for far too long. We reiterate the importance of a $1B+ allocation of funds for LSC in FY 2024 as they help the most vulnerable Americans navigate their urgent legal issues in such a time of need.

Sincerely,

Kristen Sonday

Co-Founder, CEO, Paladin

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