New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

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NJSBA And Legal Services Ask State To Remedy LSNJ Funding Gap

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA), in conjunction with Legal Services of New Jersey (LSNJ), are calling upon the State of New Jersey to help avert a funding crisis for Legal Services in New Jersey. In a joint release bringing attention to the crisis and calling for state action, Karol Corbin Walker, President of the New Jersey State Bar Association, declared, “Legal Services is a central component of New Jersey’s justice system. It is the only statewide system furnishing counsel to low-income people in civil legal cases. Because of a funding shortfall in another state program, Legal Services stands to lose $4.4 million by the end of 2004. It is essential this funding be replaced.”

“The shortfall comes in the IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts) program,” explained Melville D. Miller, Jr., President of Legal Services of New Jersey. “Because of abnormally low bank interest rates, IOLTA revenue for Legal Services has dropped severely during the last 18 months, creating a situation where we face a loss of as many as 50 staff positions and 6,000 fewer clients served by the end of this year. This would be a disastrous cutback in civil justice for the poor in this state.”

“The State Bar has always been a strong supporter of Legal Services’ efforts to serve the poor,” emphasized Walker. “People need lawyers for many civil legal problems and, according to a recent study, only one-sixth of those in need can get lawyers now. This is not a need that can be met by private lawyers, who already provide extensive mandatory and voluntary pro bono services. Legal Services must be adequately funded.”

“We really have no other way to make up this shortfall,” concluded Miller. “We have no choice but to call on the State to fill this hole.” Accordingly, NJSBA and the LSNJ jointly call on the Governor and Legislature to remedy the funding gap.

The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice.