Why It Matters
We pride ourselves on being a land of opportunity, where everyone gets basic rights and the chance to work hard and move up in the world. But if you run into a civil legal issue and your family can’t afford an attorney, you’re hitting a brick wall – your problem often spirals, your economic opportunities become limited, and before long your family could be in poverty. We can prevent these spirals by making sure people can access professional advice, information, and representation to resolve civil legal issues.
Wisconsin taxpayers deserve government systems that are effective and efficient. Our court system struggles with both efficiency and effectiveness when people go without legal help. What’s more, when courts don't deliver effective justice, people are forced to rely on more expensive, publicly funded support, like emergency services, to stay safe and stable. That’s why we need to strengthen the access-to-justice component of our system. By investing in a key means of providing access to justice – civil legal aid – you will help taxpayers now and into the future.
If you’re facing a significant legal problem, you should be able to pursue a fair legal resolution. Unfortunately, our system is too complicated for most people without a lawyer to make their voices heard and protect their legal rights. In civil cases, you are not guaranteed an attorney if you can't afford one. We can make our legal system more fair by ensuring everyone can obtain legal advice, representation, or information when they need it.
No one wants to be excluded from seeking or achieving justice because of their income, skin color, gender, who they love, how they worship, or any other aspect of who they are. But, our legal and social systems carry with them the prejudices of our past and present. As a result, these systems perpetuate injustice for people of color, LGBTQ+ people, women, people with disabilities, and other oppressed groups. This is true in our civil legal system. When communities and legal aid organizations join forces to dismantle these inequities, the results are powerful. This can be in the courtroom, on the legislative floor, in the public arena, and even within the legal profession.
Justice for All
America was founded to protect the life, liberty, and property of everyone here through rule of law and a system of checks and balances. But, the legal system was largely created by attorneys, for people represented by attorneys, and is hard to navigate without professional help. With no Constitutional guarantee of an attorney in civil cases, people of limited means too often face their legal problem alone. Everyone in society should have tools to pursue reasonable legal solutions to their problems. Civil legal aid is key to ensuring justice is available to all, and is not limited to those who can afford an attorney.