Make Equal Justice
A Reality In Washington State

ABOUT US

Mission

To ensure that people are treated equally and fairly before the law by educating policymakers and the public about the importance of civil legal aid in our communities and advocating for sufficient public funding for civil legal aid on behalf of low-income people in Washington State.

History

The EJC was established in 1995 to serve as a strong voice to advocate for adequate funding of federal and state civil legal aid programs. We’re a non-partisan grassroots organization and serve as a standing committee of the Washington State Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Board.

Advocacy

We work at the statewide and national levels to ensure low-income people access legal help and representation. Members are kept up to date on important legal aid issues through Action Alerts and our blog, which spotlights the impact work of our partner organizations and champions for legal aid.

PEOPLE IN POVERTY

On average, 200 low-income people turn to legal aid programs each day for help with basic human needs.

Washington State’s legal aid network is comprised of statewide and specialty legal aid organizations who work collaboratively with 17 county-based volunteer attorney programs to provide low-income individuals and families with meaningful access to justice.

Helping Seniors

PEOPLE IN POVERTY

Approximately 14 percent of Washington residents (915,278) fell below the official poverty line ($23,492 for a family of four) in 2012. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau ACS)

CHILDREN IN POVERTY

Percentage of children under 18 in the state living below the official poverty line ($23,492 for a family of four) in 2012. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau ACS).

FOOD INSECURITY

Percentage of households in the state that were food insecure on average from 2010-2012. (Source: U.S.D.A., Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement)

HOMELESSNESS

Estimated number of men, women, and children without a home or shelter in 2012. (Source: WA Dept. of Commerce, Homeless Assistance and Prevention Programs)

STATE AND FEDERALLY FUNDED LEGAL RESOURCES

The Northwest Justice Project is Washington’s largest, publicly funded civil legal aid program. In 2013, NJP closed a total of 12,606 cases, helping 27,383 low-income people overcome barriers to basic human needs.

Northwest Justice Project’s principal funders are the WA Legislature, through the Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA) and Congress, through the federal Legal Services Corporation (LSC).

NJP Offices: 17 regional offices that provide extended legal advocacy and representation in the most pressing and difficult cases facing low-income people across the state. Services include:

CLEAR (Coordinated Legal Education Advice & Referral) serves as the statewide centralized legal aid intake hotline.
1 (888) 201 1014

Special Projects: Veterans Project, Foreclosure Prevention Unit, Integrated Rural Legal Assistance Project, Medical Legal Partnership, Native American Unit, and Farmworker Unit.

WashingtonLawHelp.org: Online self-help center containing hundreds of legal resources, forms and instructions (in multiple languages), including document assembly technology, and educational videos.

Consumer
13%
Housing
30%
Family (DV Advocacy)
38%
Income Maintenance
7%
Health
4%
Other
8%
If you are seeking civil legal help, please call Northwest Justice Project’s CLEAR hotline at 1 (888) 201-1014. The CLEAR hotline is open from 9:10 a.m. to 12:25 p.m., Monday through Friday.

If you are a senior, call 1-888-387-7111.
If you are a veteran, call 1-855-657-8387.
If you are a resident of King County, call 211 or 1-877-211-9274 (toll free).
If you need help with a foreclosure case, call 1-800-606-4819.

The Equal Justice Coalition does not provide any legal advice or representation. Instead our efforts go to helping retain and gain adequate funding for legal aid programs in Washington State.

FUNDING

Established in 1974, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) promotes equal access to justice by providing federal funding grants to 134 nonprofit legal aid programs across the United States; Northwest Justice Project is Washington State’s sole LSC grantee.

Federal funding has dropped significantly over the years. In 2010, LSC funding peaked to $420 million, which provided NJP with a $6.8 million grant. In 2011, LSC funding fell to $404 million, and in 2012, Congress reduced its funding by 17% to $348 million. This reduction meant $964,000 less in funding to NJP.

LSC Funding History

The Governor signed into law the agreed upon budget that adopts the House appropriations level for the Office of Civil Legal Aid, funding OCLA and Northwest Justice Project at the same level that the Legislature provided in the 2011-2013 biennium, $23.186 million.

Early in the 2013 session, the Senate Ways & Means Committee proposed a $5.4 million cut to the State Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA). Thankfully, Senators Linda Evans Parlette (R-Wenatchee) and Ed Murray (D-Seattle) co-sponsored a last minute, bipartisan amendment to restore $2 million of the $5.4 million cut to OCLA, which passed committee and was adopted as part of the Senate-proposed budget. And our Coalition did not stop there. We, after months of hard work, were able to erase these cuts completely.

At a time when budgets were slashed for many entities, this result is a huge relief. Without the help of our members, their calls and emails to legislators, none of our work could have been possible.

This positive result is a great example of what we’re capable of accomplishing as a coalition. Your voice, commitment, and willingness to contact your legislators about the importance of legal aid to low-income communities and the administration of justice is what drove our success into reality.

Sign up to receive updates on state funding for civil legal aid.

Take Action

 

Eastside Legal Assistance Program
Solid Ground Family Assistance Program
Seattle Community Law Center
TeamChild
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Unemployment Law Project

In 2012, our goal was to have funding restored to pre-recession levels. Between 2007 and 2011, King County’s investment in legal aid was reduced by a near cumulative $160,000.  We faced multiple challenges: (1) The Executive’s budget included only four of the five programs supported in fiscal year 2012; and (2) we were looking to expand King County’s support to include Seattle Community Law Center, an Alliance member working to secure federal benefits for people with disabilities who are homeless or low-income in King County.

We attended and testified as a group during community hearings on the proposed budget and met with Councilmembers (and their staff) to discuss the collaborative delivery system the legal aid programs promotes and to ensure the needs of low-income people are met in a timely and effective manner.

We received help from various supporters from legal aid programs, the private bar, and our members.

The King County Council did more than champion our ask: they passed a budget that restored funding to pre-recession levels to Eastside Legal Assistance Program, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, TeamChild, Family Assistance Program at Solid Ground, and Unemployment Law Project; added Seattle Community Law Center as a beneficiary; and secured additional funding for ELAP to provide a Domestic Violence Attorney at the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN). Legal aid funding from the King County budget increased from $302,000 to $513,991. We are grateful for the outpouring of support from our grassroots members and the Council’s understanding of the impact legal aid can have on individuals, families and communities county-wide.

For fiscal year 2014, we secured a continuation of levels seen in the county’s fiscal year 2013 budget, which included a sizable increase in investment to legal aid programs serving King County’s most vulnerable people.

BECOME A MEMBER

Pro bono services and [legal aid] programs are critical to helping the most vulnerable in our community enforce their rights and protections under the law.

Bob Ferguson, WA State Attorney General & Frm. King County Councilmember [Quote link.]

As an alliance, we are working towards ensuring access to justice positively impacts thousands of low-income people that require legal aid services to meet their basic human needs.

Patrick Palace, WSBA President

Access to a legal aid attorney can help families in crisis avoid foreclosure, thwart fraudulent or predatory practices, protect themselves from domestic violence, and maintain employment, healthcare and livelihood.

Eric Gonzalez, EJC Director

Together we can ensure the legal system addresses basic human needs.

 JOIN THE EJC

EJC TEAM

Stan Bastian

IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRPERSON

Stan served as the Chair of the Equal Justice Coalition from 2010 to 2013, 2007-2008 President of the Washington State Bar Association, and 12 years as board member of LAW Fund. He is a partner in the Wenatchee law firm of Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward.  more

Eric Gonzalez Alfaro

DIRECTOR

Eric has been serving as the EJC’s Director since July 2011. Prior to EJC, Eric served as Public Information Officer for the Nebraska Latino American Commission, served on the 2011 Board Nominating Committee of ACLU Nebraska, and has worked for Northwest Justice Project and Columbia Legal Services.
 more

Michael Pellicciotti

CHAIRPERSON

Mike is a Managing Assistant Attorney General, where he helps lead Washington’s efforts to combat healthcare fraud and vulnerable person abuse. He previously served as a King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, protecting women and children from domestic and sexual violence; and before that he clerked at the Washington Supreme Court. more

CONTACT US

For more information about civil legal aid or the EJC, get in touch with us.

The Equal Justice Coalition does not provide any legal advice or representation. Instead our efforts go to helping retain and gain adequate funding for legal aid programs in Washington State.

If you are seeking civil legal help, please call Northwest Justice Project’s CLEAR hotline at 1 (888) 201 1014.

Equal Justice Coalition

1325 4th Avenue, Ste. 1335
Seattle, Washington 98101 USA
1 (206) 447 8168

info@ejc.org

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