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General Counsel Request More Funding for Legal Services Corp.

April 29, 2019, 7:03 PM

General counsel from 262 companies including Amazon, Eli Lilly and Company, and the Walt Disney Company, are urging Congress to increase funding for Legal Services Corporation, a little more than a month after the Trump administration proposed defunding the group.

This is the third year in a row that the Trump administration has threatened to defund LSC, the nation’s single largest sponsor of civil legal aid, despite bipartisan support for the group.

“The federal investment in civil legal aid brings our country closer to meeting its foundational promise of equal justice for all,” said the letter from the legal department leaders.

Without access to justice, unresolved legal issues result in harmful, “unnecessary and life-altering consequences,” it said.

“The General Counsel letter reflects broad recognition across the business community that an accessible system of justice, including legal aid for those who can’t afford to pay for legal assistance, is essential to the rule of law, is a good investment, and is a non-partisan, American value,” LSC President James J. Sandman said in an email.

This isn’t the first time outside groups have stepped in to defend LSC funding. In March 2018, 160 law school deans sent a letter to Congress, urging it to continue funding. And in March 2017, general counsel from 185 companies wrote to Congress with a similar request.

Congress provided LSC with $410 million for FY 2018 and with $415 million for FY 2019.

LSC asked for $593 million for 2020, an increase over last year’s request of $564.8 million.

“Congress has increased our funding in each of the last two fiscal years despite defunding proposals,” Sandman said, adding that he’s “optimistic” that Congress will continue to fund the group.

Legal Services Corporation is an independent, non-profit corporation established by Congress to provide funding for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. It funds 132 legal aid programs in every county in every state and the territories.

To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Heelan Stanzione in Washington at
To contact the editor on this story: Rebekah Mintzer in New York at