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Free Legal Aid services yields immediate and long-term benefits

Muskegon Circuit Court
Muskegon County
Muskegon Circuit Court

Civil legal aid services in the state of Michigan yield 669% return on investment in social and economic value, according to a recent report released by the Justice for All commission.

By providing resources for more than 100 civil legal aid issues, the report found that the added economic value adds both immediate and long-term benefits to communities and the state. It accounts for the money that would be otherwise spent on assistance, if free legal aid wasn’t available to prevent possible long-term issues.

The report is being used to help understand the importance of free legal aid in the state of Michigan, as investment in these programs rises, many expect to see even greater social economic benefits.

The civil legal issues that are addressed by these aid programs include, custody, healthcare, consumer protection (such as foreclosure and debt collection), eviction and more. These programs assist with legal advice, paperwork, and legal representation. There are more than 1.7 million Michigan residents eligible for assistance from Michigan Legal Aid.

Angela Tripp is the director of the Michigan Legal Aid Help program, and the Vice Chair on the Justice for All commission. She explains that the report allows the commission to monetize the work in legal aid, and justify further investment.

“It's not just helping these individual people with an immediate crisis but it's creating long-term benefits,” she explained.

The report suggests that addressing and providing aid to address these issues, rather than leaving the community without legal help or knowledge, have longer term benefits that exceed the cost of offering these services.

Taylor Bowie is a senior studying English Literature at the University of Michigan and an intern in the Michigan Radio newsroom. She is originally from Owosso, Michigan.
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