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ABA President Calls for Reform to Meet
Legal Needs of the Low-Income

October 14, 2014
William C. Hubbard

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Reprinted with permission from the Oregonian

Only a quarter of the legal needs of America's poor are being met, which has led to a chaotic mess of non-lawyers attempting to represent themselves and clogging the courts in serious legal proceedings like child custody and eviction hearings.

William Hubbard, president of the American Bar Association, addressed the resulting "justice gap," at a meeting of the Young Lawyers Division of the ABA in Portland over the weekend. Though it's been near the top of the ABA's agenda for a decade, the gap has only gotten worse, he said.

There is now evidence, the phenomenon seems to be spreading to middle-income Americans. "More and more people in the middle class are also avoiding the courts and legal system," Hubbard said.

The problem will soon become even worse in Portland after Lewis & Clark Law School shuts down its namesake legal clinic for the poor later this year. Though the program was popular with students and with local court officials, who said clinic lawyers played a vital role in serving low-income clients, school officials said budget pressures are forcing them to cut costs.

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