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Lawyers May Need to Increase Pro Bono Work to Make Up for Legal Aid Cuts, Congressman Says

Posted Apr 6, 2011 7:13 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf has a suggestion to make up for proposed Republican budget cuts of $70 million for the Legal Services Corp.

Private lawyers could do additional pro bono work, the Republican congressman said at a budget hearing on Tuesday. Wolf, the chairman of a House appropriations subcommittee, is a longtime supporter of funding for civil legal aid, according to The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times. But he warned that the Republican majority wants to cut the LSC budget, and said the agency may have to turn to large law firms, state bar dues and law schools for help.

Wolf was specific about the kind of pro bono help needed, the BLT says. Helping Guantanamo detainees such as alleged Sept. 11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed isn’t a good use of resources, he suggested.

“That’s the pro bono work? The pro bono work should be helping poor people here in the United States,” he said. “Some of these people who represent Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ought to consider going into the inner city.”

The LSC has organized a task force on increasing pro bono work in response to Wolf’s ideas, the story says. Currently, private lawyers handle about 12 percent of cases for LSC-funded programs.

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