ACB Statement to Congress re Proposed Defunding of Legal Services Corporation
Friday, March 24, 2017
The College's commitment to pro bono activities is memorialized in the Statement of Purposes in Article II.2 of our bylaws. That commitment has been turned into action by the Foundation's 36-member Pro Bono Committee, which in 2016 reviewed 65 grant applications from consumer debtor providers, and recommended funding 51 of them. The Foundation, with direct contribution from Fellows and from the College, distributed $467,940 of grants.
The delivery of legal services to the underrepresented is threated by the President's proposed budget, which, if enacted, would eliminate federal funding of the Legal Services Corporation. Some states spend little to nothing to facilitate access to civil justice needs, meaning that many local volunteer lawyer programs are dependent upon grants from LSC and private sector support. The loss of LSC funding would be a tremendous setback to pro bono legal service providers and would be a loss not likely to be restored at state levels.
Article II.2 of the bylaws also authorizes the College "... to participate in litigation and legislative matters in accordance with policies adopted by the Board." In light of the foregoing, and in light of the threat to the pro bono core value of the College, the Executive Committee of the Board today issued the statement available at this link, expressing the College's concern about the proposed defunding of the LSC. We have forwarded the statement to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Budget Committees, and we encourage Fellows to forward the statement to their elected representatives and to otherwise follow-up with such officials as they see fit.
G. Christopher Meyer, Chair
Marc A. Levinson, President
Mark D. Bloom, Chair, American College of Bankruptcy Foundation