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Readers' Forum Part 2, Oct. 29, 2017: Striving for equal access to justice (IN) (Opinion)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Readers' Forum Part 2, Oct. 29, 2017: Striving for equal access to justice


"Every Hoosier is entitled to equal justice under the law. Unfortunately, the legal playing field is not always level — especially for low-income residents who cannot afford legal representation. When a landlord evicts, a credit card company collects, or a splitting couple contests custody or child support, often one party is represented by a lawyer and the other is left to defend himself against someone fully educated in the law.

Free civil legal aid levels the playing field. Indiana Legal Services represented more than 11,000 clients across the state in 2016. We helped ensure fair outcomes for families, tenants and consumers. We prevented homelessness, preserved homeownership, helped families get health care and veterans get benefits, and obtained protection for victims of violence.

But we couldn’t help everyone. Earlier this year, as part of a national effort sponsored by the federal Legal Services Corporation, Indiana Legal Services conducted a survey of the more than 2,300 people who sought our legal help in a six-week period. Of those, we fully served only 27 percent (622 clients). While we provided full representation in court or administrative proceedings for most of these cases, others were fully served just by providing an answer to a legal question, referrals to other resources, and advice about how to address certain situations..."

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