WHEREAS, according to the Report of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Task Force for Legal Services to the Needy, There is a severe and growing unmet need for the poor and near-poor in Pennsylvania. The consequences - to the poor and to society as a whole- of failing to meet this need are enormous. The general unavailability of legal services to the poor for any but the most urgent needs sets in motion a domino effect which helps perpetuate the cycle of poverty and creates a two-track system of justice in our state...;

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania Legal Services (PLS) is a comprehensive statewide legal services system providing free legal assistance in civil matters to more than 40,000 low-income Pennsylvanians annually -- almost 75% of which are women -- in all sixty-seven counties in the Commonwealth;

WHEREAS, PLS offers a broad range of civil legal services, and its largest number of cases involve protection from abuse, followed closely by child custody, social security, landlord-tenant, consumer protection, and divorce matters, in addition to other matters involving public utilities, health and welfare, housing, veterans' benefits and problems of the elderly;

WHEREAS, in FY1994, PLS received $2.5 million in state funds, and although Governor Casey proposed an appropriation of $2.0 million in the Governor's Fiscal Year 1995 Budget, the FY1995 budget ultimately adopted by the General Assembly completely eliminated all state funding for PLS;

WHEREAS, legal services programs throughout the Commonwealth were struggling with increasing client demand in the face of shrinking resources even before the elimination of state funding, and the present funding situation has resulted in staff reductions, neighborhood office closings, and the turning away of needy families seeking legal help;

WHEREAS, PLS and its affiliated legal services programs have proven themselves to be an effective, cost-efficient way by which to achieve fundamental fairness and provide a peaceful avenue for dispute resolution;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association supports restoration of funding for PLS at least to the level at which it has previously been funded under the state budget;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association urges Governor Ridge and the General Assembly to take whatever steps are necessary to restore the vital capacity of Pennsylvania Legal Services and its affiliated programs, so that legal services programs throughout the Commonwealth are able to continue to undertake the critical work needed to help ensure a fair and just society and to improve the lives of all Americans;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association hereby authorizes that Chancellor and whomever he or she may delegate to take whatever actions are necessary and appropriate to implement this resolution.

ADOPTED: February 23, 1995