Anthony Young, Southern Arizona Legal Aid

Last week, we got the great news that an Arizona legal leader was selected to be part of a small group to speak at the White House.

The topic was legal-aid funding, so we’d probably agree that the fact there’s a need for such a summit is not so great. Nonetheless, the nation and our state are served well by Anthony Young being designated.

As a Legal Services Corporation story reported:

“At a White House forum April 17 on the state of civil legal assistance, co-hosted by LSC, President Obama said that making civil legal assistance available to low-income Americans is “central to our notion of equal justice under the law,” and pledged to be a “fierce defender and advocate” for legal services.

“Those remarks drew to a close two hours of spirited discussion of the state of civil legal assistance by a diverse group of national leaders.”

The complete story is here.

And here is a press release on Anthony Young’s contribution.

Washington, DC – Southern Arizona Legal Aid (SALA) Executive Director Anthony Young was a panelist today at a White House forum examining the state of civil legal assistance for low-income Americans. The forum was co-hosted by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC).

Young noted that SALA sustained a 20 percent decrease in funding over the past year, requiring a reduction in staff, from 63 to 56, and the closure of its office in Santa Cruz County, the poorest community in its service area. With fewer staff, “we are using more volunteers, and using them in different ways,” Young said after the forum. “Our pro bono lawyers are training pro se litigants on how to complete the forms they need, file them, and navigate the court system without a lawyer.”

“Southern Arizona Legal Aid proves the value of collaboration in providing access to justice,” said LSC President James J. Sandman, who moderated the panel of directors from LSC-funded programs. “SALA’s partnership with the University of Arizona Law School extends the reach of the program’s foreclosure prevention work. Through SALA’s Volunteer Lawyers Program, private attorneys represent clients pro bono and assist self-represented individuals. Through these collaborations, many low-income Arizonans gain access to justice they would not otherwise have.”

President Obama also spoke briefly at the forum, saying that the availability of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans is “central to our notion of equal justice under the law,” and pledging to be “a fierce defender and advocate” for legal services.

Anthony Young at the White House

Other speakers at the forum included: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; Deputy Chief of Staff to the President Mark Childress; former Pennsylvania Governor and U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh; U.S. Department of State Legal Advisor Harold Hongju Koh; Department of Veterans Affairs General Counsel Will A. Gunn; White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler; Justice Jess H. Dickinson of the Mississippi Supreme Court; Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan; American Bar Association President William T. Robinson; LSC Board Chairman John G. Levi and Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow, who is also vice chair of the LSC board.

Young is one of six directors chosen from among the 135 organizations nationally that receive federal funding through LSC. In addition to Arizona, other states represented on the panel were Georgia, Montana, Ohio, Virginia and Washington.

Established by Congress in 1974, LSC is the single largest funder of civil legal assistance in the nation. LSC grants help address the civil legal needs of the elderly, victims of domestic violence, veterans seeking benefits to which they are entitled, persons with disabilities, tenants facing unlawful evictions, and other civil matters.