State Bar of Michigan leaders attended an ABA Day conference in Washington, D.C., May 3, 2006 to help make the case for more funding for the civil legal needs of Michigan residents. State Bar President Thomas Cranmer led the group which also included President-elect Kimberly Cahill, commissioner and current co-chair of the Committee on Justice Initiatives Richard McLellan, SBM Executive Director John Berry, and Justice Initiatives program administrator Gregory Conyers.
The focus of the visit was to support the Legal Services Corporation's (LSC) budget for the 2007 fiscal year and to back a modest increase in appropriations to meet the civil legal needs of Michigan residents. The LSC faces a cut of $20 million from the FY2006 appropriation of $330 million to $310 million for this fiscal year. The SBM team met with nine Michigan congressional delegation members or their staff including Sen. Carl Levin and Reps. Dave Camp, Vernon Ehlers, Sander Levin, Joseph Knollenberg, John Dingell, Joe Schwarz, Thaddeus McCotter, and Dale Kildee.
"The State Bar of Michigan has a proud history of support for equal access to justice, and we will continue with our efforts over the summer to back an increase for LSC funding to provide crucial legal services to the increasing number of low-income people who need them," Cranmer said.
A recently released study entitled The Justice Gap in America—The Current Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-Income Americans indicates a significant shortage of civil legal assistance available to low-income Americans. The study shows that nationally for every client who receives services, one is turned away. Michigan data reveals similar results. For every four persons served, three are turned away, and every day at least 100 people with significant legal needs are denied civil legal services due to lack of resources.