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Diversifying Funding for Legal Aid in the U.S.

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Lessons from Reformers

This case study is part of the OGP Justice Policy Series, Part I: Access to Justice.

On the eve of adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, the United States formally launched a federal interagency effort to integrate civil legal aid into executive branch-led efforts that promote access to health and housing, education and employment, family stability, and public safety. The White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (LAIR) brings over 20 federal agencies together to identify ways in which civil legal aid can advance federal priorities through four primary strategies: leveraging federal resources to strengthen civil legal aid, facilitating strategic collaboration between civil legal aid and law enforcement, developing policy recommendations that improve access to justice, and advancing evidence-based research, data collection, and analysis of access to justice interventions. This activity, which enhances government transparency and civil society participation, was included as an OGP commitment in the U.S. Third National Action Plan. Importantly, LAIR agencies have worked across different presidential administrations to connect civil legal aid to each administration’s priorities.*

*Note: Maha Jweied, one of the drafters of this paper, helped lead this commitment when she was with the U.S. Department of Justice.

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