Providing Access to Justice Boosts Maryland’s Economy
Maryland Access to Justice Commission study finds Maryland’s nonprofit civil legal services
programs provide not only humanitarian but also financial benefits to state’s economy
(ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Jan. 8, 2013) Providing civil legal services to low-income residents helps all Marylanders, not just the poor clients who use the services. A new report by the Maryland Access to Justice Commission finds that Maryland nonprofit civil legal services programs generate 190 million dollars each year statewide in economic activity, cost savings and increased productivity as a result of their advocacy. Further, the report concludes, the work of civil legal services programs in Maryland significantly boosts the state’s economy by bringing in millions of federal dollars, improving the lives of low-income Marylanders, and saving the State millions in expenditures.
These conclusions are outlined in a Maryland Access to Justice Commission report, just published on the Commission website. The Commission examined the financial benefits to Maryland’s economy through the activities of civil legal services programs in the state.
In Fiscal Year 2012, advocacy by Maryland civil legal aid providers:
The report focused on Fiscal Year 2012 (July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012). The data about direct financial benefits to clients was provided by Maryland Legal Aid and the Homeless Persons Representation Project, just two of the state’ 35 legal services providers, and included the amount of actual dollars awarded or financial savings achieved from cases handled during FY 2012. The value of systemic advocacy work was compiled by the Public Justice Center and the Homeless Persons Representation Project, and measured the economic benefits for thousands of low-income Marylanders brought by work in several key initiatives.
The Commission report notes that if other providers had been able to provide data, the direct and indirect financial benefits would measure higher.
To analyze the indirect benefits from legal aid advocacy, the Commission used data about social benefits achieved on behalf of individual clients, including those likely to result in increased tax revenue for the state and savings in costs associated with homelessness and domestic violence. The data comes from annual reporting provided to the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) by each of its grantees.
Each year, thousands of Marylanders get legal help from lawyers and others who staff Maryland’s nonprofit legal providers, or who offer pro bono help through one of the 35 legal services programs that receive state funding through MLSC. “These attorneys represent less than one percent of all Maryland lawyers, yet their impact that of the additional attorneys who serve pro bono, is significant, not just in terms of helping our fellow Marylanders, but also in terms of solid economic advantages for our state’s economy,” said retired Court of Appeals Judge Irma S. Raker, who chairs the Maryland Access to Justice Commission.
The Maryland Access to Justice Commission was created by the Maryland Judiciary to improve and expand all people’s access to the state’s civil justice system. The goal of the Commission is to enhance the quality of justice in civil legal matters for persons who encounter barriers when dealing with the courts or trying to solve legal problems.
To read the full report, go to http://mdcourts.gov/mdatjc/pdfs/economicimpactofcivillegalservicesinmd201301.pdf. A two-page executive summary is available at http://mdcourts.gov/mdatjc/pdfs/summaryeconomicimpactofcivillegalservicesinmd20121217.pdf.
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