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Spending bill increases LSC funding

The $1.1 trillion dollar federal spending bill signed into law late last week increases funding for the Legal Services Corporation by $25 million, including support for a new grant program, the Pro Bono Innovation Fund.

The $365 million allocated to LSC in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for fiscal 2014 represents an overall increase of 7 percent from fiscal 2013.

“We are grateful to Congress for the first increase in our funding since 2010,” said LSC President James J. Sandman. “We particularly appreciate the $2.5 million Congress has provided for a brand-new Pro Bono Innovation Fund, which will allow us to stimulate an expansion of pro bono legal services by the private bar for people who cannot afford a lawyer.”

The spending bill raises basic field grants by more than 6 percent to more than $335 million and also includes $2.5 million for the pro bono fund, which will support new and innovative projects that promote and enhance pro bono initiatives throughout the country.

Projects funded under the program will develop, test and replicate innovative pro bono efforts that can enable LSC grant recipients to expand clients’ access to high-quality legal assistance.

LSC’s national Pro Bono Task Force urged the creation of a Pro Bono Innovation Fund in its final report in 2012, available at www.lsc.gov