Access to Justice in the Judiciary Budget

The City Bar is deeply committed to increasing access to justice and ensuring adequate resources for our justice system. We applaud the Judiciary’s annual allocation of $100 million to fund civil legal services for low-income New Yorkers who face threatened loss of the essentials of life. The City Bar Justice Center, the City Bar’s nonprofit affiliate, annually delivers free legal assistance to more than 24,000 low-income New Yorkers from all five boroughs through limited and full scope legal representation, and tens of thousands of other New Yorkers are helped through the Justice Center’s significant community outreach and education efforts. The Judiciary’s commitment to stable funding for civil legal services has been and will continue to be vital for the Justice Center and the civil justice providers in New York. The need for this funding has only become more apparent as New York continues to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact. This devastation has manifested in even greater need for civil legal assistance addressing unemployment and other public benefits; small business dislocation; landlord/tenant and other housing issues; and consumer credit problems. In short, the pandemic confirmed both the need for nonprofit civil legal services like those provided by the City Bar Justice Center and other providers – as well as the importance of cross-leveraging subject matter expertise to creatively address new needs. The Judiciary’s commitment to funding civil legal services translates into healthier and more stable communities, homes and families, it reduces the presence of unrepresented parties in court or keeps cases out of court altogether, and it helps to access and obtain federal benefits.