Justice In Government Toolkit

By: American University Justice Programs Office

Civil legal aid is free legal assistance to those who cannot afford it, whether provided through direct services or court-based self-help centers, community education, medical-legal partnerships, and online information. Legal aid can help to improve the quality and efficiency of government programs, increase access to justice, and achieve policy outcomes and priorities.

This Toolkit helps government policymakers, grant administrators, legal profession leaders, social service providers, legal aid or other advocates:

  • Learn about the evidence base for using legal aid to further specific policy and program goals;
  • Identify sources of executive branch funding for legal aid;
  • Put legal aid on policymakers’ agendas; and
  • Highlights examples of states that advances their policy priorities with already appropriated federal pass-through funding that allows spending on legal aid.

To accomplish these goals, we have three modules, each of which can be separately downloaded: the first module focuses on research relevant to legal aid and common government policy priorities such as reducing homelessness, helping veterans, and removing barriers to employment for job seekers; the second module focuses on government funding sources that can be used for legal aid; and the third module walks through how states have partnered with grant administrators, state and local executive branch policymakers, and the judiciary to incorporate legal help to solve problems for the people government seeks to serve.