Legal Services Program
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- History and Mission
- Legal Services Program Standards and Guidelines
- Oversight and Accountability
History and Mission
In 1996, the legislature adopted ORS 9.572, which created the Oregon State Bar Legal Services Program (OSB Legal Services Program). The legislation required the OSB to manage the filing fee funds appropriated to the OSB Legal Services Program, develop Standards and Guidelines for providers, and create a Legal Services Program Committee to provide ongoing oversight and evaluation to ensure compliance with the Standards and Guidelines, and to further the program’s goals. The Standards and Guidelines incorporate standards adopted by the American Bar Association for the operation of legal aid programs.
Mission of the OSB Legal Services Program
It is the mission of the Oregon State Bar Legal Services Program:
To use the filing fee revenue to fund an integrated, statewide system of legal services centered on the needs of the client community as identified in the Mission Statement of the OSB Civil Legal Services Task Force Final Report, May 1996; and
To use its oversight authority to work with Providers to insure that the delivery of services is efficient and effective in providing a full spectrum of high quality legal services to low-income Oregonians.
To work to eliminate barriers to the efficient and effective delivery of legal services caused by maintaining legal and physical separation between providers of general legal services to low-income Oregonians in the same geographical area, while maintaining Providers’ ability to offer the broadest range of legal services required to serve the needs of clients.
Legal Services Program Standards and Guidelines
The Standards and Guidelines apply to all programs providing civil legal aid services in Oregon who receive funding from the (OSB) Legal Services Program. The Standards and Guidelines address the following four areas:
- governing structure for the Legal Services Program at the OSB;
- the standards and guidelines for providers serving the civil legal aid needs of low income persons in Oregon;
- mechanisms for cooperative collaboration by providers; and
- oversight and evaluation by the OSB Legal Services Program of the providers.
Legal Services Program Governing Structure: The OSB Legal Services Program Committee is charged with oversight of the OSB Legal Services Program and the funds appropriated to the OSB by the Oregon Legislature. The OSB Legal Services Committee receives direction from the OSB Board of Governors and is responsible and making recommendations to the OSB Board of Governors on the work of the OSB Legal Services Program. The Legal Services Program Committee members are listed below.
Standards and Guidelines for Providers: It is the goal of the OSB Legal Services Program Standards and Guidelines that all providers are part of an integrated delivery system that is designed to provide relatively equal levels of high quality client representation throughout the state of Oregon. To that end the Standards and Guidelines outline requirements for provider structure, provider use of funds and eligibility guidelines, procedures for establishing priorities for the use of its resources, avoidance of competition with the private bar and provider grievance process. That standards and guidelines also incorporate additional standards such as ABA Standards for the Provision of Civil Legal Aid and the Oregon Code of Professional Responsibility.
Cooperative Collaboration by Providers:The providers must create mechanisms for cooperation among themselves and other programs providing services to low-income Oregonians.
Oversight and Accountability
Periodic Accountability Process
As part of the compliance phase, the Director of the Legal Services Program and the Legal Service Program Committee conduct an accountability review. The goals of the review are to conduct an affirmative investigation to assure compliance with the OSB Legal Services Program Standards and Guidelines; assure accountability to clients, the public and funders; and to assist with provider’s self-assessment and improvement.
This accountability analysis is divided into performance objectives which are stated in the OSB Legal Services Program Standards and Guidelines.
The providers must provide services that meets the following performance objectives:
- Services are integrated and part of a statewide system of legal services that provides relative equal access across Oregon
- Services are centered on the needs of the client community
- Services are be provided in an effective and efficient manner
- Programs provide a full spectrum of legal services that are high quality
A report is generated and provided by the OSB Legal Services Program to the OSB Board of Governors and other Stakeholders. The latest report can be found here 2012 Legal Services Program Achievements and Results.
Annual Reporting Requirements
Each legal aid provider files a report annually with the OSB Legal Services Program that details its activities in the previous year. The Legal Services Program mandates that providers annually submit the following information:
- All providers shall annually undergo a financial audit by an independent auditor, which meets generally acceptable accounting practices. A copy of the final audit report shall be submitted to the OSB Legal Services Program.
- The numbers and types of cases and matters in which legal services were delivered. This includes detailed data on 99 types of cases and services codes in detail necessary to assure compliance with the OSB Legal Services Program Standards and Guidelines.
- A list of the providers staff and governing body;
- A copy of its budget;
- A narrative description of the provider’s operations, including a description of its needs assessment, priority setting, and grievance processes, which is sufficient to demonstrate that the program is in compliance with the OSB Legal Services Program Standards and Guidelines.
OSB Legal Services Program Complaint Process: The following complaints will be addressed by the OSB Legal Services Program Committee through the Director of the Legal Services Program:
- Complaints about the manner or quality of legal assistance provided in individual cases or the denial of legal assistance in individual cases. Each provider is required to have a written internal grievance procedure to address complaints about the manner or quality of legal assistance provided in individual cases or about the denial of legal assistance in individual cases. The LSP will not review or respond to your complaint under this category unless you have completed the providers’ internal grievance process.
- Other complaints, excluding category a., regarding the overall quality of legal assistance or the performance of the provider.
- Complaints that providers are acting outside the scope of the statute, ORS 9.574, not in compliance with these Standards and Guidelines, or misusing funds.
Ethics or malpractice complaints will be forwarded to the appropriate discipline department at the Oregon State Bar.
The LSP Committee will not review or respond to a complaint unless they receive a complaint form outlining the nature of the complaint in writing. If you have any questions or need a complaint form mailed to you please contact the Director of Legal Services Program at the contact information included below.
If you have a complaint please contact the Director of Legal Services Program at the contact information included below.
OSB Legal Services Program Budget
The OSB Legal Services Program oversees the funds appropriated to the OSB Legal Services Program by the Oregon Legislature. The OSB Legal Services Program oversees four different funding source. They are described as follows:
Filing Fee/Statutory Allocation: Beginning in 1977, a portion of legal aid's funding has come from state court filing fees. In 2011, the legislature continued funding for legal aid but instead of receiving funding from a fee added to certain court filings, which were adjusted periodically and overall funding was increased as filings increased, legal aid now receives a statutory allocation of $11.9 Million per biennium---or $5.95 Million annually.
General Fund Appropriations: In 2007-2009 biennium and 2009-2011 bienniums the Legal Services Program received general fund approriations. The Legal Services Program has not received a general fund allocation since.
Pro Hac Vice Funds: Out of state lawyers who are unlicensed to practice law in Oregon may appear in Oregon courts subject to certain rules. Pursuant to ORS 9.241 the fee for such appearances goes to the OSB Legal Services Program to be used to fund legal aid.
Partner OrganizationsThat Support Legal Aid Services
The following are bar committees and other organizations that support legal aid services in Oregon.
Legal Services Program Committee: The Legal Services Program is charged with the administration of funds appropriated to the Oregon State Bar for the funding of legal aid programs. The LSP Committee has oversight authority for the establishment and revisions of the LSP Standards and Guidelines and for the evaluation methods to provide oversight of the legal service providers. The LSP Committee makes recommendations to the OSB Board of Governors.
Pro Bono Program: The OSB Legal Services Program includes the Pro Bono Program. A part-time Pro Bono Coordinator works with the OSB Pro Bono Committee to develop and implement strategies that create a statewide culture of pro bono and greater participation by the private bar.
Oregon Law Foundation: The OLF is a separate nonprofit organization whose primary source of revenue is the interest on lawyer trust accounts (IOLTA). The OLF's primary mission is to support access to justice in Oregon by obtaining and distributing funds to provide legal services to persons of lesser means. The OLF works to educate banks on the importance of supportive interest rates on IOLTA accounts. The private bar also plays a crucial role in getting banks to raise interest rates. The OLF works closely with the OSB and CEJ to achieve its mission.
Campaign For Equal Justice: CEJ is a nonprofit established in 1991 to help with the mission of ensuring that equal access to justice becomes a reality for all residents of Oregon. CEJ takes a strategic approach to solving the shortage of legal services by educating lawyers and the public about the need and by working to increase resources for legal aid through grants, state and federal support, and by direct fundraising from private lawyers. CEJ works closely with the OLF and OSB to achieve its mission.
Legal Aid Organizations That Receive Funding
The OSB Legal Services Program Standards and Guidelines apply to all legal aid programs providing civil legal aid services in Oregon who receive funding from the OSB Legal Services Program. It is mandatory that all legal aid providers be part of an integrated delivery system that is designed to provide relatively equal levels of high quality client representation throughout the state of Oregon. To meet that goal legal aid provides free civil legal services to poor and vulnerable Oregonians in 17 communities and these offices serve all 36 counties. The communities are Albany, Bend, Klamath Falls, Newport, Pendleton, Portland, Roseburg, Coos Bay, Grants Pass, Hillsboro, McMinnville, Ontario, Salem, St. Helens, Woodburn, Eugene and Medford. Services are provided by lawyers working for the five nonprofits listed below:
- Legal Aid Services of Oregon (LASO)
- Oregon Law Center (OLC)
- Lane County Legal Aid and Advocacy Center (LCLAC)
- Center for Non Profit Legal Services (CNPLS)
- Columbia County Legal Aid In 2011 Columbia County Legal Aid assigned to OLC the responsibility to operate and maintain an office in St. Helens serving low income residents of Columbia County. Although Columbia County Legal Aid still receives the OSB Legal Services Program funds the Columbia County office is fully integrated into OLC’s operating system.
Legal aid has developed a website to provide free legal information for low-income Oregonians which can be found at http://oregonlawhelp.org.
Legal Aid's Other Funding Sources:The nonprofit corporations that provide services have 80 sources of funding including federal and state grants and revenue from private foundations. Examples include a grant from The Oregon Housing and Community Services to provide legal assistance for homeowners facing foreclosure, funds from a Oregon Department of Justice grant to serve victims of domestic violence, grants from United Way to provide services to low income clients and generous contributions from private lawyers through the Campaign for Equal Justice.
Task Force Reports and Legal Needs Studies
OSB Legal Services Program Committee
Kristin Bremer Moore, Chair, Portland
Kamala Shugar, Secretary, Portland
Hon. Timothy Gerking, Medford
Andrea Thompson, Portland
Brent Hall, Pendleton
Josh Newton, Bend
Sara, Kobak, Portland
Judith Baker, Director Legal Services Program
16037 SW Upper Boones Ferry Rd, PO Box 231935, Tigard, OR 97281-1935