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Indiana Legal Services’ case load likely to increase with additional federal dollars

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After watching its federal appropriation sink to $4.7 million during the economic downturn, Indiana Legal Services is set to receive a boost in funding for the 2014 calendar year.

The extra money is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014 which was approved by Congress in mid-January. ILS’s parent organization, Legal Services Corp., is receiving an appropriation of $365 million, up from the $340.88 million it received in 2013.

Indiana Legal Services’ total funding – calculated based on the percentage of residents in each state living in poverty – will be $6.53 million, a 6.18 percent increase from 2013.

“That’s good news,” said Norman Metzger, executive director of ILS. “Now we have to decide how to spend it.”

The ILS board of directors is scheduled to discuss ways to use the new money during its March meeting. Possibilities include giving pay raises to the employees and increasing the funds for contracts with private attorneys to provide legal services to ILS clients, especially in rural areas. Also, the board could decided to use the appropriation to move forward with some items on the nonprofit’s strategic plan.

“I think the board will end up doing two or three things,” Metzger said, noting boosting all three areas will potentially result in a 10 to 15 percent increase in the number of cases handled by ILS. In 2013, the agency closed 7,300 cases while about 3,000 remained open.

In late 2013, ILS gave all staff attorneys a $3,000 pay raise which increased the starting attorney annual salary from $42,000 to $45,000.

The $25 million increase in federal funding is the first increase Legal Services Corp. has recorded since 2010. However, adjusting for inflation, the latest appropriation is millions of dollars less than the $611.44 million granted in 1995 or the $413.13 million received in 2004.

Legal Services Corp. will use $2.5 million of the new money for the Pro Bono Innovation Fund. The fund will be used to establish a competitive grant program to develop and test new ways to provide pro bono services to indigent clients.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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