Washington, DCÃ¯Â¿Â½The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Board of Directors is launching a Pro Bono Task Force to develop additional resources to help low-income Americans facing foreclosure, domestic violence and other serious civil legal problems.
The new Task Force was announced today during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on LSC's Fiscal Year 2012 budget request. The Task Force will be chaired by LSC Board members Martha Minow, dean of the Harvard Law School, and Harry J.F. Korrell III, a partner in the Seattle office of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.
"Pro bono and volunteer services are critical to the efforts by LSC-funded programs to meet the civil legal needs of low-income Americans," LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi said. "The Task Force will explore how LSC-funded programs can better coordinate, use and deploy pro bono. It also will look at what more can be done, on a national level by LSC and the Board, to encourage and expand pro bono."
"We want to put a spotlight on the importance of additional pro bono and private attorney involvement in LSC programs, and we are grateful that in this effort we have the interest and support of Representative Frank Wolf of Virginia and others on Capitol Hill," Levi said.
Rep. Wolf (R-Va.) is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) is the ranking member. The Subcommittee oversees LSC's funding, and LSC Board member Robert J. Grey Jr. and LSC President Jim Sandman testified before the Subcommittee today.
Grey, a former president of the American Bar Association, said that LSC has emphasized the importance of pro bono in recent years with good results. Last year, pro bono lawyers closed 12 percent of all cases nationwide, up from 10 percent two years ago.
The new Task Force, he said, will look at the challenges of increasing pro bono in rural areas, where there are few private lawyers, and in providing support for solo practitioners and attorneys in small firms who may not have the financial resources or support to take on pro bono work.
"We can always do more," Grey said. "We want to encourage new thinking and to develop innovative practices."
LSC is the nation's single-largest funder of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. Established by Congress in 1974, LSC operates as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation to provide for equal access to justice and to ensure the provision of high-quality legal assistance to low-income Americans.