Securing Equal Justice for All: A Brief History of Civil Legal Assistance in the United States

This report from CLASP, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, and the Consortium for the National Equal Justice Library, provides a brief history of civil legal assistance for low-income people in the United States.

We cover its privately funded beginnings, its achievement of federal funding, and its expansion and growth into a national program operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and former U.S. territories in the South Pacific. We also describe some of the political battles that have been fought around the legal services program and the restrictions that have come with government funding. We conclude with some brief thoughts about the future.

Alan Houseman and Linda Perle are the report’s authors.

Cover photo: Shutterstock, Delpixel