2017 Justice Gap Report - The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans

Measuring the Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans
Legal Services Corporation

The Justice Gap: Measuring the Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans explores the “justice gap,” the difference between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs. This study explores the extent of the justice gap in 2017, describing the volume of civil legal needs faced by low-income Americans, assessing the extent to which they seek and receive help, and measuring the size of the gap between their civil legal needs and the resources available to address these needs.

The Legal Services Corporation contracted with NORC at the University of Chicago to help measure the justice gap among low-income Americans in 2017. NORC conducted a survey of approximately 2,000 adults living in households at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) using its nationally representative, probability-based AmeriSpeak® Panel. This report presents findings based on this survey and additional data LSC collected from the legal aid organizations it funds. 

This report shows:

  • In the past year, 86% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help.

  • 71% of low-income households experienced at least one civil legal problem in the last year, including problems with health care, housing conditions, disability access, veterans’ benefits, and domestic violence.

  • In 2017, low-income Americans will approach LSC-funded legal aid organizations for support with an estimated 1.7 million problems. They will receive only limited or no legal help for more than half of these problems due to a lack of resources.

The Justice Gap - Full Report [PDF]

The Justice Gap - Executive Summary [PDF]


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