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Funding Civil Legal Aid has a Ripple Effect

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The 2018 Economic Impact and Social Return on Investment of Civil Legal Aid Services for Louisiana is complete. The LBF engaged Community Services Analysis LLC to conduct the study. Community Services Analysis is the leading provider of Social Return on Investment Analysis (SROI) in the United States, having completed over 220 economic impact and SROI studies for local and state agencies around the country, and serves as the exclusive provider of SROI services to the National Legal Aid & Defender Association.

SROI is an internationally standardized and accepted process for measuring and understanding the financial impact of a social services organization. While SROI is built on the logic of cost/benefit analysis, it measures both the immediate value and long-term consequential financial values created by the organization through its delivery of services to the community. More than 40 civil legal aid organizations providing services in Louisiana participated in this analysis.

The Social Return on Investment Analysis completed for Louisiana's civil legal aid organizations is a measurement of the values delivered during the fiscal year 2018.  The Analysis revealed that the net economic impact value resulting from Louisiana civil legal activities during the year totaled $95,124,000.   These values are based on the number of clients and types of legal matters handled during the period. In fiscal year 2018, Louisiana's civil legal aid organizations provided assistance in over 100 types of civil legal problems including family law, housing, healthcare, consumer protection, public benefits, employment, and community support issues.  

The total net social return on investment for Louisiana's civil legal aid programs during the 2018 fiscal year was 913%.  Stated differently, for every $1 invested in Louisiana's civil legal aid services, these programs deliver $9.13 in immediate and long-term consequential financial benefits. The social return on investment for Louisiana's civil legal aid organizations is higher than comparative values for many other types of social service organizations based on the delivery of many types of legal services that result in significant future cost savings or additional income to the State of Louisiana and the number of volunteer, pro bono, hours of legal services delivered by attorneys in Louisiana. 

Investing in civil legal aid is a powerful way to help people solve critical problems and prevent events that are personally harmful and expensive for society. As the Analysis illustrates, investing in civil legal aid causes a ripple effect, not only affecting the families served, but the community at large. Schools, businesses, government agencies and the state as a whole benefit from resolving civil legal problems.

The LBF is committed to serving all Louisiana households in poverty.  Our society improves when people understand the law and have equal access to justice. It is our hope that this Analysis will better educate the public on the value of civil legal aid to both the indigent and our state's social, economic and health conditions, and will lead to restored funding of civil legal services for Louisiana's most vulnerable citizens.  With Louisiana having one of the highest poverty rates, the time for restored civil legal funding is critical. 


The Louisiana Bar Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity organized under the state of Louisiana.