Recent Article
in the Management Information Exchange Journal:
Economic Impacts of Legal Aid:
Civil Justice for Low-Income People Creates Ripple Effects
That Benefit Every Segment of the Communities We Serve
By Ken Smith, Barbara Finkelstein and Christopher O'Malley
Ken Smith

Barbara Finkelstein

Christopher O'Malley
The primary mission of legal aid is to provide access to our civil justice system for those lacking the means to hire a lawyer. Representation by legal aid advocates fulfills one of our society's most basic promises: Equal Justice Under Law.

Yet this mission also produces economic impacts that ripple outward to benefit many other segments of society. Making public officials aware of the scope and impact of these outcomes is a huge opportunity that legal aid leaders are turning to with greater frequency and success. This article addresses three questions:

This article addresses three questions
  • How are state and local civil justice leaders using economic impact information to successfully preserve and even expand funding for their programs in the face of historic budgetary pressures at the local and state levels?

  • What are the economic impacts that legal aid programs produce for the larger community in the course of addressing the legal needs of their clients, and how can we quantify them?

  • What lessons have we learned to date about the effective use of economic impact information in efforts to secure more funding for access-to-justice programs

  • Click Here For the Complete Article

  • Click Here for information about our NLADA Annual Conference 2013 session on this topic.

  • Click Here for additional resources for estimating and applying the economic impacts of legal aid.

  • Ken Smith is president of The Resource for Great Programs (, a national consulting firm serving civil justice programs and their funders across North America. He served as consultant to the IOLA Fund and to Legal Services of the Hudson Valley in generating the economic impact information used in the three initiatives that serve as case studies in this article.

  • Barbara Finkelstein is Executive Director of Legal Services of the Hudson Valley ( where she provides leadership and vision to the largest civil legal services program for low income persons in the Hudson Valley. Since assuming this position, she has initiated programs in family law, domestic violence, children's advocacy, health advocacy and mortgage foreclosure, and has enhanced private fund raising to include foundations, corporations and law firms, quadrupling LSHV's budget to over $8 million.

  • Christopher O'Malley is Executive Director of the IOLA Fund of the State of New York (, and a member of the Chief Judge's Task Force on Access to Civil Legal Aid in New York.

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