Civil legal aid groups that receive money from the Legal Services Corp. estimated that they will cut 163 lawyers and 230 other employees this year after Congress trimmed the agency’s budget by 14% for fiscal 2012, according to an LSC survey released Thursday.
The projected reductions among 132 of the 135 LSC-funded organizations follow a loss in 2011 of 833 positions. The groups in 2010 had 9,059 employees, including 4,351 lawyers. In 2012, the organizations expect to have 7,833 workers, including 3,769 attorneys.
“I was not surprised to see this,” LSC President James Sandman said, adding that the staff losses will harm the ability of civil legal aid groups to help the poor.
Congress in November passed legislation that gave $348 million to LSC for fiscal 2012. LSC last had a $348 million budget in 2007.
The agency asked Congress to provide it with $517 million for fiscal 2012. For fiscal 2013, LSC is requesting $470 million.
The agency hands out more money for civil legal aid than any other U.S. organization. Many of the clients are individuals facing eviction or victims of domestic abuse.