No resolution presented herein reflects the policy of the Minnesota State Bar Association until approved by the Assembly.  Informational reports, comments, and supporting data are not approved by their acceptance for filing and do not become part of the policy of the Minnesota State Bar Association unless specifically approved by the Assembly.

 

Report and Recommendation to the MSBA

Regarding the American Bar Association Principles of a State System for the Delivery of Civil Legal Aid

MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee
December 13, 2013

 

RECOMMENDATION

            RESOLVED that the Minnesota State Bar Association re-adopt the American Bar Association (ABA) “Principles of a State System for Legal Aid,” which describe a statewide system for the delivery of civil legal aid that provides a full-range of high quality, coordinated and uniformly available civil law-related services to low-income and vulnerable populations in sufficient quantity to meet their civil legal needs.

           

REPORT

            In June 2006, the MSBA Assembly adopted the Report and Recommendation of the Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged (LAD) Committee to support a resolution seeking adoption of the “Principles of a State System for Legal Aid” (“the Principles”) by the ABA.  At its August 2006 meeting, the ABA adopted the Principles, with an accompanying Self-Assessment Tool for evaluating a state’s progress towards fulfilling the Principles. The Principles are designed to enable states to meet the goal of providing a full range of high quality, coordinated and uniformly available civil law-related services to its low-income and other vulnerable populations.

 

The Principles currently remain as a policy of the ABA.  In the intervening years since adoption, the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Legal Services Advisory Committee (LSAC) has used the Principles to guide its grant making priorities as part of its biennial distribution of state legislative funds for civil legal services. In addition, with its 2012 Order dissolving the Legal Services Planning Committee, the Supreme Court has given the responsibility for statewide planning and oversight of civil legal service delivery to LSAC.  A key purpose of the Principles remains--to provide guidance to Minnesota’s legal services providers, the private bar, and planning bodies (such as the LAD Committee and LSAC) as they continue to improve the quality and quantity of services.

 

            The LAD Committee believes the MSBA should re-adopt the Principles and reaffirm its commitment to and leadership in the area of access to civil justice for low income Minnesotans. Since this policy expired in 2012, action is now required to keep it in force. A copy of the original 2006 Report and Recommendation follows as Appendix A. The complete Principles with the Self-Assessment Tool are provided separately as a PDF document accompanying this Report and Recommendation.  (The Principles and Self-Assessment Tool can also be found at the following link: http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_aid_indigent_defendants/ls_sclaid_06A112B.authcheckdam.pdf )

 

In summary, as was stated in the 2006 Report and Recommendation, the Principles call for:

 

·         provision of a full range of high quality services to those who face barriers to accessing the justice system, with dignity and respect, without regard for geographic location;

 

·         the coordinated use of all available resources (financial, volunteer and in-kind), and all entities (legal aid, the private bar, law schools, paralegals, lay advocates, human service agencies) that provide some form of law-related services;

 

·         a high level state body to oversee the planning for and development of an integrated system of service delivery, efficiently and cost effectively;

 

·         engagement of low income and vulnerable populations to insure that services are client-centered and that client populations are actively involved in planning;

 

·         the judiciary to be actively involved by supporting service providers and by insuring that court rules and procedures do not erect unnecessary hurdles to access;

 

·         the private bar and state bar associations to support and provide leadership for this effort; and

 

·         the development and use of research and evaluation to monitor the success of the state’s efforts in achieving the goal of full access.

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

            The LAD Committee continues to believe the Principles provide a clear and comprehensive framework to guide Minnesota’s civil legal services planning entities (the LAD Committee, LSAC, the state Supreme Court and the state court system, and providers of civil legal services) in assessing the state system, planning its improvements and ensuring ongoing oversight of its development. Although progress has been made towards fulfilling the goals of the Principles, much work still remains.  The MSBA’s endorsement of the Principles remains necessary as the delivery system strives to provide a full range of high quality civil legal aid services for the State’s low-income and other vulnerable populations who cannot afford counsel to meet their civil legal needs.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee

Sally Silk, Co-chair

Janine Laird, Co-chair

 


APPENDIX A

 

No resolution presented herein reflects the policy of the Minnesota State Bar Association until approved by the Assembly.  Informational reports, comments, and supporting data are not approved by their acceptance for filing and do not become part of the policy of the Minnesota State Bar Association unless specifically approved by the Assembly.

 

Report and Recommendation to the MSBA

Regarding an American Bar Association Resolution Setting Forth Principles of a State System for the Delivery of Civil Legal Aid

MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee
June 1, 2006

 

RECOMMENDATION

            RESOLVED that the Minnesota State Bar Association adopt the American Bar Association (ABA) resolution setting forth “Principles of a State System for Legal Aid,” which describe a statewide system for the delivery of civil legal aid that provides a full-range of high quality, coordinated and uniformly available civil law-related services to low-income and vulnerable populations in sufficient quantity to meet their civil legal needs.

            FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Minnesota State Bar Association adopt the American Bar Association resolution recommending that the appropriate entities use the “Principles of a State System for the Delivery of Civil Legal Aid” and the accompanying “Self-Assessment Tool” to assess the state’s system, to expand and improve it, and to ensure ongoing planning for and oversight of its development.

 

REPORT

            At its August 2006, the ABA will consider adoption of the “Principles of a State System for the Delivery of Civil Legal Aid” (“the Principles”), with an accompanying Self-Assessment Tool for evaluating a state’s progress towards fulfilling the Principles. The Principles are designed to enable states to meet the goal of providing a full range of high quality, coordinated and uniformly available civil law-related services to its low-income and other vulnerable populations. The Principles build on earlier initiatives of the Legal Services Corporation, the Project for the Future of Equal Justice (a joint project of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association and the Center for Law and Social Policy), and the ABA Access to Justice Support Project. The principles are directed primarily at state Access to Justice Commissions and related planning entities.

 

The ABA seeks to adopt a uniform set of standards for the entire country because funding levels and program development vary widely from state to state. Minnesota has always been in the forefront of providing high quality legal services, and expanding access to justice for vulnerable populations. In fact, Minnesota is already addressing a number of the areas identified in the Principles through the Legal Services Planning Commission and its subsequent body, the Legal Services Planning Committee, appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court. Adoption of the Principles will provide additional direction for Minnesota’s legal services providers, the private bar, and planning bodies (such as the Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged (LAD) Committee and the Legal Services Planning Committee) as they continue to improve the quality and quantity of services.

 

            The LAD Committee believes that Minnesota should adopt the proposed ABA resolution as written. Action is required at the MSBA’s June 23 Assembly meeting so that the MSBA’s support can be reported to the ABA at its August 2006 annual meeting, when this resolution will be considered by the ABA’s governing body. A complete copy of the Principles and the Self-Assessment Tool are attached.

 

In summary, the Principles call for:

 

·         provision of a full range of high quality services to those who face barriers to accessing the justice system, with dignity and respect, without regard for geographic location;

 

·         the coordinated use of all available resources (financial, volunteer and in-kind), and all entities (legal aid, the private bar, law schools, paralegals, lay advocates, human service agencies) that provide some form of law-related services;

 

·         a high level state body to oversee the planning for and development of an integrated system of service delivery, efficiently and cost effectively;

 

·         engagement of low income and vulnerable populations to insure that services are client-centered and that client populations are actively involved in planning;

 

·         the judiciary to be actively involved by supporting service providers and by insuring that court rules and procedures do not erect unnecessary hurdles to access;

 

·         the private bar and state bar associations to support and provide leadership for this effort; and

 

·         the development and use of research and evaluation to monitor the success of the state’s efforts in achieving the goal of full access.

 

The accompanying Self-Assessment Tool addresses each of the Principles. It is designed for use by Access to Justice commissions and other state planning entities, including Minnesota’s own Legal Services Planning Committee. It focuses planning attention on relevant populations of consumers of legal services, types, quality and quantity of services, the full range of civil legal services providers, involvement of the state’s judiciary and the organized bar, and evaluation and assessment.

 

At its meeting on May 24, 2006, the Minnesota Legal Services Planning Committee voted to endorse the ABA resolution.

 

CONCLUSION

 

            The Committee believes that The Principles provide a clear and comprehensive framework to guide Minnesota’s civil legal services planning entities (the LAD Committee, the Legal Services Planning Committee, the state Supreme Court and the state court system, and providers of civil legal services) in assessing the state system, planning its improvements, and ensuring ongoing oversight of its development. The endorsement of these principles by the MSBA is a critical step in achieving a full range of high quality civil legal aid services for the State’s low-income and other vulnerable populations who cannot afford counsel to meet their civil legal needs. Finally, approval of this resolution by the MSBA will further support its adoption by the ABA and other Access to Justice planning initiatives around the country.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

 

Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee

Katie Trotzky, Co-chair

Tom Conlin, Co-chair