Documenting the Justice Gap in Pennsylvania (June 2017)

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Report from the PA IOLTA Board and PLAN documenting the actual unmet need for civil legal aid in Pennsylvania in 2017. This report was compiled in response to a recommendation of the Pennsylvania General Assembly that the IOLTA Board, working through PLAN, should collect data from the Legal Services Programs on clients rejected for services to determine the actual unmet need for civil legal aid in Pennsylvania in order to better inform funding decisions.

Data Highlights

During the six week time period in which data were collected, 14,224 people applied for services at a PLAN affiliated program and received a case acceptance decision.

Not accepted for service

Of the 14,224 applicants that had a case acceptance decision at the time of the data analysis, 8,160, or 57.4%, were not accepted for service.

Of the 8,160 applicants that were not accepted for service, 1,911, or 23.4% were determined ineligible:

  • 1,107, or 58%, were ineligible due to their income exceeding the program’s income guidelines
  • 637, or 33%, were ineligible due to their legal problem being a criminal matter
  • 137, or 7%, were ineligible due to LSC’s or another funding source’s restrictions
  • 30, or 2%, were ineligible due to non-citizenship

Of the 8,160 applicants that were not accepted for service, 3,466, or 42.5% presented a civil legal problem that fell outside the program’s case acceptance guidelines.

Of the 8,160 applicants that were not accepted for service, 1,599, or 19.6% presented a civil legal problem that the program did not have sufficient resources to take on.

Of the 8,160 applicants that were not accepted for service, 548, or 6.7% were unable to be served because the client did not follow through or contact with the client was lost.

Of the 8,160 applicants that were not accepted for service, 342, or 4.2% presented a civil legal problem restricted by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services or the IOLTA Board .

Of the 8,160 applicants that were not accepted for service, 294, or 3.6% presented a conflict of interest for the program. 

Accepted for service

Of the 6,064 applicants that received services, 2,452, or 40.4% were provided only limited services or pro se resources that would not fully resolve their case due to insufficient resources.

Of the 6,064 applicants that received services, 3,612, or 59.6% were provided with representation that fully resolved the applicant’s case. 

Conclusions 

For every person represented by a Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network program, at least two (2.4) eligible people asking for help received inadequate or no assistance. 

Of the 12,313 people who applied for services and were eligible, only 3,612, or 29%, were provided with representation that fully resolved their case. 


 

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