Feb. 13, 2023 – Gov. Evers recently announced several proposals for the 2023 biennial budget, including a major initiative to substantially increase state funding for civil legal aid. The State Bar of Wisconsin applauds the Governor’s recognition of this unmet need.
In response, State Bar President Margaret Hickey made this statement:
“On behalf of the Board of Governors, the leadership of the State Bar of Wisconsin supports Gov. Evers’ proposed appropriation for civil legal aid in Wisconsin and hopes that the legislature gives serious consideration to fully supporting this budget proposal.
Wisconsin has gone far too long without properly funding civil legal aid and this allocation will make a significant impact. Not only does civil legal aid support eligible individuals and families by resolving civil legal issues, but it also has a far-reaching impact on the judicial system. Additional funding not only increases courtroom efficiency by providing attorneys to those in need, but also reduces unnecessary court proceedings, which helps Wisconsin’s most vulnerable families.
We applaud Governor Evers for his dedication to this important cause, and again, urge the legislature to support this long-underfunded legal need as well.”
Many Wisconsin citizens struggle to find legal representation for housing, employment, and family matters in civil court, and lack the means to hire an attorney. Civil legal aid funding helps ensure fairness for all in the justice system and improves public confidence in our system of fair and impartial justice. Without it, thousands of Wisconsin families face a very real barrier to accessing justice, falling into the "justice gap."
Public funding from federal, state, and local governments has a key role to play in helping to remove barriers to access to justice. It’s a wise investment for Wisconsin: for every $1 invested, Wisconsin’s civil legal aid providers obtain $10 for their low-income clients in the form of child support, security deposits, jobs obtained, and more.