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  • Rotunda Report
    April 24, 2023

    Civil Legal Aid Helps Deliver Justice...and Taxpayer Savings!

    Civil legal aid not only helps ensure justice is served to all, but it can make courts more efficient and save taxpayers money, too. Lawmakers need to hear from you on this topic as they put together the biennial budget.

    Mr. Devin Martin

    April 24, 2023 – When people lack legal assistance in civil matters, it can impede justice and increase costs for taxpayers. Civil legal aid provides free or low-cost legal assistance to low- and middle-income people, helping them to access necessities like health care, housing, employment, and educational services. Eligible clients are in every county in Wisconsin, and include seniors, veterans, families with children, domestic abuse survivors, people with disabilities, landlords and tenants, and crime victims, among others.

    ​Too many eligible recipients seeking civil legal aid in​ Wisconsin are turned away due to a lack of resources from providers. Wisconsin lawmakers can help cover the gap while saving taxpayers money by increasing state funding for civil legal aid providers, which will help recover their clients' earned wages, child support payments, veterans or unemployment benefits, and more.

    Civil Legal Aid allocations are disbursed to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation (WisTAF), the nonpartisan, 501(3)c nonprofit organization established by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to administer civil legal aid funding. Overseen by a board appointed by the Supreme Court and State Bar, WisTAF has a long and successful history of managing and monitoring civil legal aid grants to providers throughout the state that expand access to legal assistance and aid the administration of justice.

    Devin Martin Devin Martin, is the grassroots outreach coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. He can be reached by email, or by phone at (608) 250-6145.

    In Wisconsin and around the nation, civil legal aid enjoys bipartisan support. Substantial new investments, while modest in the scope of the overall budget surplus, would be a major step forward for eligible clients as well as taxpayers. Studies1 have shown that civil legal aid returns more money to state economies than it costs.

    The State Bar of Wisconsin, along with the Civil Legal Aid Alliance of Wisconsin, strongly supports increased state funding for civil legal aid, but legislators also need to hear from you. Send a message to your lawmakers about increasing civil legal aid today.

    What You Can Do: State Bar of Wisconsin Advocacy Network

    Advocacy Network

    State Bar members are encouraged to send a message to their lawmakers expressing their opinions on civil legal aid using the Advocacy Network. The pre-written suggested email message is fully customizable so that you can express how this, or any other topic important to you, impacts your practice, your clients, your community, and our state as a whole.

    Don't forget to subscribe to the Rotunda Report and follow us on Twitter to stay informed and get involved in the legislative process.


    1Task Force to Expand Access to Justice in New York, Nov. 2011 report (data extrapolated to Wisconsin)

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