Plans for Increasing Funding for Colorado Legal Services
Resource Development Committee
Prepared April 9, 2013
The Resource Development Committee is focused on maintaining and increasing funding for the Colorado Legal Services Corp. ("CLS"), a Colorado non-profit that employs attorneys throughout the state who perform pro bono legal services on behalf of the indigent. To accomplish this goal, our committee works with the Colorado State Legislature, the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, Colorado attorneys, and other private sector contributors. What follows is information concerning the efforts and plans on our horizon.
State Legislative Funding:
The Colorado legislature provides limited funding to CLS through a family domestic violence fund – the current budget allocation is approximately $1,200,000 for fiscal year 203/14. This critical funding is used to help domestic violence victims obtain restraining orders, divorces, child support, and solve other related legal problems. They and their children have the opportunity to move forward with their lives in a safer and healthier environment. Funding for this program also allows CLS to use other funds for client representation in other areas of civil law. The Committee has a history of working with the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court and the Joint Budget Committee at the state legislature to protect this line-item in the judiciary department budget.
The Resource Development Committee is hoping to secure legislation in the near future to provide a permanent, cash-funded allocation to CLS. We intend to educate key state legislators about the need to ensure permanent funding for CLS and the resultant societal and economic benefits to Colorado and the court system. We look forward to the opportunity to engage in this dialogue, but respect the difficult budgetary constraints currently faced by the JBC. Our focus is a long-term solution for a critical problem.
Colorado Attorneys and Private Sector Contributions:
Colorado attorneys give generously to CLS and the Legal Aid Foundation; however, much more can be done through law firms and other private funding sources. The Resource Development Committee provides education and information to any business, firm, foundation or organization that is interested in accomplishing the goals of the Access to Justice Commission. To that end, we have engaged with state and local business chambers, private philanthropists and law firms to encourage private sector participation in access to justice.
In addition, the Resource Development Committee is investigating other means of long-term funding to include a sur-charge to attorney registration fees, allocation of cy pres awards and residual class-action fee awards to benefit CLS.
Resource Development Committee meetings are held monthly to discuss strategies for the state legislative session. If you are interested in participating or seek more information, please contact John Zakhem, Committee Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org 303/228-1200.