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THE WASHINGTON STATE OFFICE OF CIVIL LEGAL AID. Status Report to the Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors January 17, 2008. WHAT DOES THE OCLA DO?. Simply stated … We work to get state funding to meet the civil legal needs of low income people in Washington State

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the washington state office of civil legal aid

THE WASHINGTON STATE OFFICE OF CIVIL LEGAL AID

Status Report to the Washington State Bar Association Board of Governors

January 17, 2008

what does the ocla do
WHAT DOES THE OCLA DO?

Simply stated …

  • We work to get state funding to meet the civil legal needs of low income people in Washington State
  • We make sure that this funding gets to the right people to provide civil legal aid services, and
  • We make sure that the funding is properly used by those people.
origins the supreme court task force on civil equal justice funding
ORIGINS: THE SUPREME COURT TASK FORCE ON CIVIL EQUAL JUSTICE FUNDING
  • Published Civil Legal Needs Study (9/03)
  • Issued Final Report and Recommendations (5/04):
    • Established the Justice Gap* at $28 million/yr., of which $18 million/yr. is needed in areas of legal representation currently authorized by the Legislature.
    • Declared that provision of civil legal aid is a core judicial branch responsibility and should be administered within the judicial branch.
    • Recommended creation of an independent Office of Civil Legal Aid within the judicial branch to administer and oversee state civil legal aid funding.
    • Recommended that state funded civil legal aid continue to be subject to effective bipartisan oversight.

*The “Justice Gap” is the difference between the existing level of state funding and the level of funding needed to address the civil legal needs documented in the Civil Legal Needs Study.

2004 justice in jeopardy the perfect storm
2004 -- JUSTICE IN JEOPARDY:THE PERFECT STORM

Funding crisis affecting core components of the justice system in Washington State is documented in reports published by:

  • TASK FORCE ON CIVIL EQUAL JUSTICE FUNDING (including the Civil Legal Needs Study)
  • BJA’S COURT FUNDING TASK FORCE
  • WSBA’s BLUE RIBBON PANEL ON INDIGENT DEFENSE
2004 justice in jeopardy a call for unified action
2004 – JUSTICE IN JEOPARDYA CALL FOR UNIFIED ACTION
  • Supreme Court, BJA, WSBA, Indigent Defense and Civil Legal Aid communities establish a common umbrella to implement the recommendations set out in the three reports.
  • BJA’s Court Funding Implementation Committee created -- the “Justice in Jeopardy” initiative is born.
  • 2005: WSBA, ATJ Board and EJC secure passage of HB 1747 – the OCLA is established
the office of civil legal aid
THE OFFICE OF CIVIL LEGAL AID
  • Established by the Legislature (HB 1747) as an independentjudicial branch agency (Codified at RCW 2.53.030)
  • Director appointed by Supreme Court upon recommendation from the Access to Justice Board
  • Duties:

(1) Contract with qualified legal aid providers to provide effective and economical civil legal aid services to eligible low income residents throughout Washington

(2) Oversee and ensure accountability of legal aid providers to the requirements governing state-appropriated legal aid funding

(3) Develop and submit biennial budget requests

(4) Report biennially on the status of state-funded legal aid

  • Overseen by the Civil Legal Aid Oversight Committee
ocla strategic objectives
OCLA STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES
  • Expand and invest funding to address needs chronicled in the Civil Legal Needs Study consistent with RCW 2.53.030 and the Access to Justice Board’s State Plan for the Delivery of Civil Legal Aid.
  • Support the effective and economical delivery of services by state-funded civil legal aid providers consistent with relevant state and national performance standards.
  • Ensure accountability for the use of state civil legal aid funding to clients, the Legislature and the people of the State of Washington.
  • Institutionalize civil legal aid as a core and enduring judicial branch function
the civil legal aid oversight committee
THE CIVIL LEGAL AID OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
  • Bipartisan committee established by RCW 2.53.010 to:
    • Oversee the activities of the Office of Civil Legal Aid
    • Review the performance of the Director of the Office of Civil Legal Aid
    • Make recommendations to the Legislature, the Supreme Court and the Access to Justice Board on matters relating to the provision of state-funded legal aid services
the civil legal aid oversight committee current membership
THE CIVIL LEGAL AID OVERSIGHT COMMITTEECurrent Membership
  • Judge Lesley Allan, Chelan County Superior Court (BJA)
  • Ret. Judge Paul Bastine, Spokane County Sup. Court (Gov.)
  • Thomas A. Brown (Attorney, Aberdeen WA) (WSBA)
  • Barbara C. Clark (Attorney, Burlington WA) (S.Ct.)
  • Carolyn Estrada (Wenatchee – client eligible member) (S.Ct.)
  • Zulema Hinojos-Fall, Administrative Law Judge, federal EEOC (S.Ct.)
  • Judge Erik Rohrer, Clallam County District Court (BJA)
  • Senator Linda Evans Parlette (R-Wenatchee) (appointment pending) (Senate R Caucus)
  • Senator Adam Kline (D-Seattle) (Senate D Caucus)
  • Representative Patricia Lantz (D-Gig Harbor) (House D Caucus)
  • Representative Jay Rodne (R-Sammamish) (House R Caucus)
the office of civil legal aid and civil legal aid oversight committee where do they fit in
THE OFFICE OF CIVIL LEGAL AID AND CIVIL LEGAL AID OVERSIGHT COMMITTEEWhere Do They Fit In?
  • ATJ Board: Principal body established by Supreme Court for planning and oversight of “a statewide, integrated, non-duplicative, civil legal services delivery system that is responsive to the needs of poor, vulnerable and moderate means individuals.”
  • WSBA: Hosts and supports the ATJ Board; partner in Justice in Jeopardy; longstanding champion for equal justice.
  • Equal Justice Coalition (EJC): Standing committee of ATJ Board to educate and promote expanded state and federal funding for civil legal aid.
  • Office of Civil Legal Aid: Independent judicial branch agency to administer and oversee state-appropriated civil legal aid funding; generates budget requests for state funding; accountable to the Legislature for the use of state funding; Director appointed by Supreme Court.
  • Civil Legal Aid Oversight Committee: Bipartisan entity to oversee activities of the OCLA and to make recommendations regarding state-funded civil legal aid.
  • Legal Foundation of Washington: Established by Supreme Court to administer IOLTA program; hosts and staffs the EJC; hosts LAW Fund and administers the statewide Campaign for Equal Justice.

See Handout on Washington State Civil Legal Aid Organizational Relationships

state appropriated civil legal aid funding where does it go
STATE-APPROPRIATED CIVIL LEGAL AID FUNDINGWhere Does it Go?
  • Contracted to Northwest Justice Project to:
    • Support the statewide CLEAR system
    • Support field office operations (16 locations)
    • Support statewide infrastructure, training and support necessary for effective and economical legal aid delivery (self-help website, ARC, CMS, training, etc.)
    • Support the operations of local pro bono programs (through an OCLA-approved subcontract)
    • Support operations of certain specialized legal aid providers (through an OCLA-approved subcontract)
how it all works the civil legal aid funding flow
HOW IT ALL WORKS THE CIVIL LEGAL AID FUNDING FLOW

Federal Legal Services Corporation (LSC)

$5.8 Million/yr.

Specialty Providers Serving Clients Ineligible for OCLA/LSC $$ ($5.9 M/year)

Federal $$

  • Legal Foundation of Washington (LFW)
  • IOLTA ($9.5 M/yr.)
  • LAW Fund --Campaign for Equal Justice (C4EJ -- $.9 M/yr.)
  • Northwest Justice Project (NJP)
    • Primary Statewide Provider
  • CLEAR Intake System
  • 16 Field and Satellite Locations
  • www.washingtonlawhelp.org
  • Advocacy Support and Coordination
  • Fiscal Contracting Agent for State $$

Special Projects and Statewide Support

$1.0 M/yr.

$1.6 M

State $$

Sub-K

For VLP &

Specialty Providers

Grants to VLP and Specialty Providers include OCLA/IOLTA/C4EJ $$

State of Washington Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA)

$11.5 Million/yr.

20 Local Volunteer Attorney Programs

$1.6 M/yr.

6 Local and Statewide Specialized Legal Aid Providers

$1.0 M/yr.

State Appropriated $$

principal gains from increases in state funding 2004 to present
PRINCIPAL GAINS FROM INCREASES IN STATE FUNDING(2004 to Present)
  • New NJP client service offices opened in:
    • Walla Walla - (3 attys)
    • Pasco (satellite) (2 attys)
    • Omak (satellite) (2 attys)
    • Bremerton (satellite) (1.5 attys)
    • Port Angeles (3 attys)
    • Aberdeen (3 attys)
    • Longview (3 attys)
    • Colville (2 atty satellite to open Spring 2008)
  • Increased client service office staffing in:
    • Spokane
    • Yakima
    • Wenatchee
    • Olympia
    • CLEAR,
  • Established CLEAR*DV
  • Established King County 2-1-1 Legal Screening and Referral
  • Increased financial support for pro bono program operations
closing the justice gap
CLOSING THE JUSTICE GAP*
  • Since 2004, state funding for civil legal aid has increased from $4.9 million to the current level of $11.2 million per year.
  • The Justice Gap has been reduced from $18.3 million to $12.0 million per year.

*The “Justice Gap” is the difference between the existing level of state funding and the level of funding needed to address the civil legal needs in state-authorized areas of legal representation documented in the Civil Legal Needs Study.

but there s still much work to be done
…BUT THERE’S STILL MUCH WORK TO BE DONE
  • Poverty rates in Washington State have increased by nearly 30% since 2001; In 2005, 1.5 million people lived at or below 200% of the poverty level; 970,000 lived at or below 125% of the poverty level.*
  • Despite recent gains, there are still very few attorneys per capita. For example, the staff attorney/client ratio in King County is still about 1:20,000.
  • Every day in courts across the state, low income litigants continue be forced to represent themselves in complex civil legal proceedings where fundamental personal interests are at stake.

Justice is still in jeopardy.

*These figures do not include non-census based populations including residents of correctional and long term care institutions and people here without color of legal authority.

justice delivers
Justice Delivers

A mother of three who is a victim of severe domestic violence writes:  

“There are truly no words that can express the gift that one receives when you’re given the help to get your life back.  Without the resources of the legal aid program, I honestly can’t even begin to imagine where I would still be.”