College Columns May 2018 - Page 15


was that LSC funding was cut 25%. Thereafter, in most budget years there has been a challenge presented in Congress over the funding level for LSC and/or whether there should be restrictions in the types of services that could be provided. This book provides a detailed history of the issues, of the arguments and the results. While this may sound tedious it is actually exciting with its descriptions of the politics and the portrayals of players such as Lewis Powell, Sargent Shriver, Richard Nixon, Archibald Cox, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Ronald Reagan, Clint Bamberger, Gary Bellow, Jean Charn, and Hillary Rodham among many others.

In the efforts to find alternative funding some states have been more successful than others with the consequence that funding is very uneven across the country. In a few of the more successful states, the amount of the federal funding (which is allocated pro-rata on a poverty count basis) may be 20% of the total funding available to support law services; in other states that dependence on federal funding may be as much as 60% or 80%.

Many of the issues have to do with restrictions on the type of services allowed with the use of federal funds, for example representation of immigrants, the use of class actions, or legislative advocacy. Because there are funds available from other sources which do not come with these restrictions, the local programs have been able to provide some of those services, but overall funding is inadequate. At its best, legal services still reach only two-thirds of the people who would be eligible and who actually ask for these services and a much smaller percentage of the people, 14% according to a 2017 study, of those who actually need those services.

The book makes frequent references to pro bono, but Earl Johnson does not undertake to trace its history or address in any detail its role as part of the larger delivery system. Our College, of course, does its part through our financial contributions to local bankruptcy pro bono programs (some of which are housed within the legal aid programs) and through the direct pro bono services provided by our members.

The book also addresses international access to justice. We learn that these services are delivered in a variety of ways in other countries, and much like healthcare, they are much more broadly available and better funded in most of the other developed countries.

The book also addresses the future and moves beyond the immediate issue of federal funding to what a more comprehensive system would look like if adequate funding became available. There is hope. I enjoyed the book enormously and I think other members of the College will too, notwithstanding its imposing length.