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Study: Civil Legal Aid for Poor Has Broad Economic Impact

Mal Leary
Maine Public
Maine Supreme Court Associate Justice Andrew Mead at a news conference to unveil a study on the impact of civil legal aid for the poor.

AUGUSTA, Maine - A newly-released study has found that civil legal aid in Maine has an economic impact of about $105 million a year. 

The study was done for the Justice Action Group, which advocates for legal representation of low-income and vulnerable people in Maine. 

The group is co-chaired by Maine Supreme Court Justice Andrew Mead.  Mead says the study shows that the aid is well spent and has a positive impact on society.

“Anyone who commits time or money to an effort wants to know what’s happening in return: What is the benefit? Is there a benefit to me? Is there a benefit to society in general?" Mead says. "I think this study
answers that question.”

The study finds that aid to help poor people with a wide range of legal issues, from housing to healthcare, has a broad economic impact.  It comes in the form of federal dollars and other awards, cost savings to Maine communities and higher incomes for workers in Maine.

Civic legal aid is funded from government appropriations and private donations, as well as free legal advice from some lawyers.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.