Florida Bar President: Federal Funding Cut to Legal Aid ‘Wrong for a Compassionate Society’
William J. Schifino, Jr., of Tampa, made the statement in response to a proposed defunding of the Legal Services Corp.
TAMPA BAY – A proposed budget introduced by President Donald Trump would cut funding to the Legal Services Corp., which is the single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans in the nation.
William J. Schifino, Jr., president of the Florida Bar, has issued this statement concerning that proposal:
“As Florida works on the difficult issue of access to civil justice, the Florida Bar and its more than 100,000 members stand firm in our longtime position to support adequate funding for the Legal Services Corp. and to oppose any funding cuts.
“It is distressing that the president’s latest budget proposal eliminates funding for the national organization providing vital grants to nonprofit legal organizations that assist low-income people. Defunding LSC would cause a loss of more than $21 million a year to Florida’s already stressed legal aid system, leaving vulnerable children, seniors, veterans and many other Floridians without advocates to protect their legal rights.
“These proposed cuts are wrong financially; more than 30 studies show that legal aid delivers more in benefits than it costs. In fact, a recent study commissioned by the Florida Bar Foundation found a seven-fold return on investment in civil legal services.
“The defunding of the LSC will also have a negative effect on access to courts, where people attempting to represent themselves struggle to navigate the system, and is wrong for a compassionate society.
“I hope the voices of Florida’s lawyers, joining with those of other concerned and affected Americans, will persuade Congress to maintain funding for the Legal Services Corp.”
Schifino is managing partner of the Burr Forman law firm’s Tampa office.
For information about the Florida Bar, go to floridabar.org.
Photo of William Schifino courtesy of Burr Forman.
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