The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission has just published its final report analyzing the economic impact of civil legal aid in Arkansas. The study, which was completed in April 2014 by a team of students from the Clinton School of Public Service, was the subject of presentations given on May 5 in Little Rock and October 2 in Rogers. Significant findings included the following:
- In 2013, Arkansas’s two legal aid providers—CALS and LAA—served nearly 12,000 clients in 2013 at a cost that was $2.4 million less than the equivalent cost of such services in the private legal market.
- Legal aid saved clients an estimated $3.4 million in costs for nonlawyer legal document services.
- Legal aid put nearly $2.3 million into the pockets of their clients and helped them avoid liabilities of over $9.4 million.
- Representation in housing foreclosure cases prevented $2.2 million in diminished housing values.
- Legal assistance for domestic violence victims likely prevented more than $3.9 million in costs for emergency shelter, medical expenses, and social services.
- Revenues that legal aid brings into the state generate an additional $8.8 million in economic activity in the state by virtue of their multiplier effect in local communities.
In all, legal aid in Arkansas yielded a total of over $32 million in economic activity in Arkansas in 2013.
“These numbers are even higher than the original projections developed this past spring,” said Commission Executive Director and Project Supervisor Amy Johnson. “It confirms what we have long known to be the case, which is that civil legal aid has positive effects that ripple through our economy and society. It is a highly effective tool for fighting poverty.”