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									    Civil Legal Needs of
 Low and Moderate Income
   Households in Georgia
A Report Drawn from the 2007/2008 Georgia Legal Needs Study




                                              Sponsored by the
     Committee on Civil Justice – Supreme Court of Georgia Equal Justice Commission

         Conducted by the A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research – Kennesaw State University
                         Additional analysis, reporting and organization by D. Michael Dale



                                             June 2009
Committee on Civil Justice
  Supreme Court of Georgia
  Equal Justice Commission

 Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, Ex-Officio
                 ––––––

        Anne W. Lewis, Co-Chair

        Teri P. McClure, Co-Chair

              P. Todd Carroll

          Richard H. Deane, Jr.

             Terence A. Dicks
   The Honorable William S. Duffey, Jr.

          Reverend Jane Fahey

            Timothy W. Floyd

            Senator Seth Harp

             Thomas D. Hills

              Linda A. Klein

           Charles T. Lester, Jr.

  Representative Edward H. Lindsey, Jr.

      The Honorable Willie Lockette

              John B. Long

    The Honorable Wayne M. Purdom

              Rita A. Sheffey
           Cubbedge Snow, Jr.

              Michael Tyler

            W. Terence Walsh

              Derek J. White

          Martin L. Ellin, Advisor

         Steven Gottlieb, Advisor

          Sharon N. Hill, Advisor

        Phyllis J. Holmen, Advisor

      Michael L. Monahan, Advisor


    Jill O. Radwin, Executive Director

    Tracy Powell, Project Coordinator
    Civil Legal Needs of
 Low and Moderate Income
   Households in Georgia
A Report Drawn from the 2007/2008 Georgia Legal Needs Study




                                              Sponsored by the
     Committee on Civil Justice – Supreme Court of Georgia Equal Justice Commission

         Conducted by the A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research – Kennesaw State University
                         Additional analysis, reporting and organization by D. Michael Dale



                                             June 2009
                                                          Acknowledgements
                                     Funding for the Georgia Legal Needs study was provided in generous part by:

                         Georgia Bar Foundation                                                          McKenna Long & Aldridge
                           State Bar of Georgia                                                      Powell Goldstein Frazer & Murphy
                 Georgia Legal Services Program, Inc.                                     Georgia Association for Women Lawyers Foundation
                      Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.                                                 Honorable William S. Duffey, Jr.
                    Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP                                         Dispute Resolution Section, State Bar of Georgia
                         Kilpatrick Stockton LLP                                                            Grier Law Office PC
                          Hunton & Williams LLP                                                             Charles T. Lester, Jr.
              Real Property Section, State Bar of Georgia                                   Appellate Practice Section, State Bar of Georgia
                         Atlanta Bar Association                                                Health Law Section, State Bar of Georgia
          Labor & Employment Section, State Bar of Georgia                                  Environmental Law Section, State Bar of Georgia
                     Lawyers Foundation of Georgia                                                       Gate City Bar Foundation
           Corporate Counsel Section, State Bar of Georgia                                      Litigation Section, Atlanta Bar Association
                               Alston & Bird                                            Labor and Employment Section, Atlanta Bar Association
             Business Law Section, State Bar of Georgia                                                        John B. Long
                              King & Spalding                                                Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys
                       DLA Piper USA Foundation                                     Women & Minorities in the Profession Committee, State Bar of Georgia
                          Atlanta Bar Foundation                                             Individual Rights Section, State Bar of Georgia
         Workers’ Compensation Section, State Bar of Georgia                                    Bankruptcy Section, State Bar of Georgia
            Legal Economics Section, State Bar of Georgia                                            Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice
               Family Law Section, State Bar of Georgia                                    Dispute Resolution Section, Atlanta Bar Association
         General Practice & Trial Section, State Bar of Georgia                        Estate Planning & Probate Section, Atlanta Bar Association
                 Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation                                   Workers’ Compensation Section, Atlanta Bar Association
             Fiduciary Law Section, State Bar of Georgia                               Women in the Profession Section, Atlanta Bar Association
          Intellectual Property Section, State Bar of Georgia                                   Technology Section, State Bar of Georgia
                            Troutman Sanders                                                        Taxation Section, Atlanta Bar Association
                     Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP

       The Administrative Office of the Courts of Georgia provides staffing and administrative support to the Committee on Civil Justice.
         The Committee on Civil Justice wishes to acknowledge former Co-Chair Marc Gary, and the assistance of Dr. Kirk Elifson and Karlise Y. Grier.

  The Committee on Civil Justice commissioned this study of the civil legal needs of the low and moderate income population of Georgia to provide
up-to-date information and analysis about the current level of access to the civil justice system in the state. The Committee on Civil Justice intends to
            use this report together with other information for planning purposes to improve access to the civil justice system in Georgia.


              The A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research - Kennesaw State University
                                       Dr. Carol Pierannunzi, Director, principal investigator and project administrator
                                       Dr. Linda Johnston, Director of the Center for Conflict Management, field work
                                      Kelleigh Trepanier, Paul Vaughn and Terry Sloope, telephone survey operations

                                                                          Author
           D. Michael Dale was a legal services lawyer and administrator for more than twenty five years. He has authored or consulted on
                  state-wide legal needs surveys in Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington State. michaeldale@dmichaeldale.net

                              Design and layout of this report was done by Barry Golivesky, designboy@mindspring.com.
                             Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                       i




Contents
Table of Charts .    .   .   .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .       ii
Definitions of Key Terms Used in this Report      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .       v
Executive Summary .      .   .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .       1
  What are the needs of low and moderate income households in Georgia, and how are they addressed? .          .   .   .   .   .   .       1
  What obstacles interfere with access to the justice system? .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .       2
  How are attorneys and legal services providers responding? .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .       3
Introduction .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .       5
Methodology .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .       7
What are the Substantive Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Georgians? .              .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 11
  Legal Needs Identified by Low and Moderate Income Households        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 11
     Overview of the RDD Survey results .     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 11
        Number of legal needs of low and moderate income Georgians per year .         .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 11
        Substantive Legal Needs Identified    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 12
        Specific issues within the major categories of legal issues that were .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 13
        experienced by low and moderate income households
             Consumer .      .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 13
             Housing     .   .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 14
             Health .    .   .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 15
             Public Benefits .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 16
             Employment      .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 16
             Education .     .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 18
             Family Law .    .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 18
        Overview of results of interviews with Hard-to-Reach Populations .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 19
             Consumer .      .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 20
             Housing     .   .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 20
             Health .    .   .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 20
             Employment      .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 21
             Education .     .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 21
             Family Law .    .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 21
  Legal Needs as Identified by Service Providers .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 22
  Legal Needs as Perceived by Court Personnel .       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 23
  ii                           Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



What happens when a low or moderate income household in Georgia experiences a civil legal need?                 .   .   .   .   .   . 25
  How many of the legal needs of low and moderate income households are addressed with the assistance of an attorney? .         .   . 25
       With the Assistance of an Attorney   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 26
       Without the Assistance of an Attorney    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 26
  For households that found a lawyer to assist them with a legal issue, what form of legal services were provided? .    .   .   .   . 27
  Why did so few low and moderate income households obtain legal assistance? .          .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 27
What were the results of the various strategies employed by the .           .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 29
surveyed households in dealing with their legal problems?
  Satisfaction with the Outcome .       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 29
  Satisfaction Without the Use of an Attorney—Being “Self Represented” .        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 29
  Satisfaction with Results when Assisted by an Attorney .      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 31
  Unrepresented Litigants Create a Number of Problems for the Efficient Operation of the Courts     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 31
What barriers to access to the justice system were identified in the survey? .          .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 33
How are attorneys and legal service providers responding?           .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 37
  Legal Services Providers     .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 37
  The Private Bar.     .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 37
       Who is providing pro bono or low cost services? .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 38
       Why do Georgia attorneys offer pro bono representation? .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 40
       What are the barriers to doing pro bono? .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 40
       What could encourage more lawyers to offer pro bono services? .      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 43
  Training and Mentoring .     .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 44
  Free Malpractice Insurance .      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 44
  Referral Process/Lack of Administrative Support .     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 44
  Discrete Tasks .     .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 44
Conclusion .       .   .   .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . 45
                              Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                       iii




Table of Charts
Figure 1: Demographics of Hard-to-reach Respondents.       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .         .9
Figure 2: Location of RDD Survey Respondents.      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     10
Figure 3: Legal Problems per Household in State Legal Needs Studies .      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     11
Figure 4: Substantive Legal Needs Reported in RDD Study .      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     12
Figure 5: Differences between Low and Moderate Income Households .         .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     13
Figure 6: Consumer Problems .      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     13
Figure 7: Housing Problems    .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     15
Figure 8: Health Problems .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     15
Figure 9: Public Benefits Problems.    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     15
Figure 10: Employment Problems .       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     16
Figure 11: Nature of Employment Discrimination Reported .      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     17
Figure 12: Education Problems      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     17
Figure 13: Family Problems    .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     18
Figure 14: Substantive Needs Reported by Hard-to-Reach Households .        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     19
Figure 15: Comparison of Legal Issues Reported by Both Hard-to-Reach and RDD Respondents .         .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     19
Figure 16: Comparison of Legal Needs Reported by Hard-to-Reach and RDD Households          .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     20
Figure 17: Top Three Legal Needs According to Providers .      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     21
Figure 18: Needs Most Sought by Clients According to Providers     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     22
Figure 19: Legal Needs Reported by Court Personnel .       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     23
Figure 20: Position of Court Respondent    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     24
Figure 21: Unmet Legal Need .      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     24
Figure 22: Form of Services Provided .     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     25
Figure 23: Did Respondent Know the Problem was Legal? .        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     27
Figure 24: How Much Trouble did the Legal Problem Cause?       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     27
Figure 25: Whether Satisfied with the Outcome.     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     28
Figure 26: Satisfaction – Self Representation .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     29
Figure 27: Satisfaction where Self Representation is Involuntary   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     30
Figure 28: Satisfaction – Assisted by Attorney .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     30
Figure 29: Obstacles to Smooth Court Operation     .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     31
Figure 30: Access Barriers Identified by Court Personnel   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     32
Figure 31: Obstacles to Clients Responding to Legal Needs (Provider Survey)    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     33
  iv                          Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



Figure 32: Knowledge of Legal Resources (RDD Survey)        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   34
Figure 33: How did Household Find a Lawyer? .       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   35
Figure 34: Ability to Use the Internet (RDD Households) .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   36
Figure 35: Barriers Experienced by Providers in Meeting Legal Needs .       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   37
Figure 36: Attorneys in Survey Doing Pro Bono by Firm Size      .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   38
Figure 37: Mean Hours of Pro Bono and Reduced Fee Service by Firm Size .        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   39
Figure 38: Source of Pro Bono Referral     .   .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   39
Figure 39: Motivation for Pro Bono Work .      .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   40
Figure 40: Discouraging Factors Reported .     .    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   41
Figure 41: Most Common Area of Practice of Attorney Respondents.        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   41
Figure 42: Areas of Practice Attorneys Decline to Accept for Pro Bono Representation    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   42
Figure 43: Effect of Training on Willingness to Accept Other Areas of Law   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   43
Figure 44: What Would Encourage Participation in Pro Bono? .        .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   44
                                                Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                     v




Definitions of Key Terms Used in this Report
       Low Income – Households with a total income that does not exceed 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. In 2007, the
       Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for a household of four in the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia
       was $20,6501. For the purposes of this study, a low income household of four in 2007 would have an income of no
       more than $30,000 (approximately 150% of the 2007 FPL).

       Moderate Income – Households with a total income between 150 – 300% of the Federal Poverty Level. In 2007, the
       Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for a household of four in the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia
       was $20,6502. For the purposes of this study, a moderate income household of four in 2007 would have an income
       of no more than $60,000 (approximately 300% of the 2007 FPL).

       Pro bono – Uncompensated legal services performed for the public good3; Legal services provided without a fee or
       expectation of fee to persons of limited means4.

       Pro se – One who represents oneself in a court proceeding without the assistance of a lawyer5. For the purposes of
       this study, may be referenced as “self-represented litigant.”

       Hard-to-reach population – Selected client populations who are perceived as being difficult to reach by telephone. For
       the purposes of this study, the selected client populations defined as “hard-to-reach” include homeless persons and
       families, deaf persons, elderly persons, persons of limited English proficiency, and the incarcerated or recently/
       formerly incarcerated.

       Random digit dialing (RDD) – A computer based form of telephone sampling that pulls telephone numbers at random
       whether they are listed or not listed to provide a representative survey sample.6 For the purposes of this study, Ci3
       CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing) For Windows software program from SawtoothSoftware, Inc.,
       was used to administer all surveys.

       Providers – Professionals working directly with the client population in a range of agencies including legal services,
       immigration assistance, information and referral, emergency housing, homeless assistance, employment assistance,
       job training, domestic violence, family support, education, disability assistance, mental health, HIV/AIDS, senior
       service, veterans and other similar agencies.

       Legal need – Any set of circumstances involving rights or responsibilities recognized by law or regulation, or some-
       thing for which the household might have appropriately consulted a lawyer or otherwise sought relief from the civil
       justice system.7 Within this report, the term “legal problems” is often used to reference legal needs.

       Legal assistance – Legal advice or representation from an attorney; advice from a legal hotline; or help not involving
       the practice of law from a paralegal, domestic violence advocate, courthouse facilitator, court clerk, law librarian or
       other non-attorney in obtaining legal information, completing legal forms, or receiving other services.

       Respondent – Those persons who responded to the surveys and interviews administered as part of this study.
1
    http://aspe.hhs.gov/POVERTY/07poverty.shtml 2007 Federal Poverty Guidelines
2
    http://aspe.hhs.gov/POVERTY/07poverty.shtml 2007 Federal Poverty Guidelines
3
    Taken in part from Black’s Law Dictionary, Eighth Edition
4
    Rule 6.1: Voluntary Pro Bono Public Service, Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct
5
    Black’s Law Dictionary, Eighth Edition
6
    http://www.marketresearchterms.com/r.php Market Research Glossary of Terms
7
    The Washington State Civil Legal Needs Study, Task Force on Civil Equal Justice Funding and Washington State Supreme Court, 2003
vi   Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia
                                                Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                  1




Executive Summary
       In 2005, the Supreme Court of Georgia joined the growing list of states that have created a formal state entity
       dedicated to the mission of improving access to justice. The Supreme Court of Georgia Equal Justice Commission
       Committee on Civil Justice (hereinafter “Committee”) was created by court order in 2005, began work in 2006, and
       was charged with the task of creating equal access to justice for all Georgians. The Committee’s mission statement
       is “to develop for implementation in Georgia a statewide, broad-based, publicly-known and supported, coordinated
       system for the poor which provides education, advice and tools to identify and address legal issues; ensures
       competent legal representation when appropriate; and promotes the efficient, effective and fair resolution of legal
       issues and disputes.”
          In 2007, the Committee commissioned a comprehensive assessment of the civil legal needs of Georgia’s low and
       moderate income population, as a starting point for its work to achieve its mission of assuring access to the civil
       justice system for all. The resulting 2007/2008 Georgia Legal Needs Study is the first to be conducted in the state
       since the 1994 study, Legal Needs Among Low- and Moderate-Income Households in Georgia8, which was administered
       in conjunction with a national study conducted by the American Bar Association. The 1994 assessment showed
       that in any given year, 40 percent of Georgia’s poverty population has at least one civil legal need. Based on 2000
       Census figures, it was estimated that just over 400,000 members of Georgia’s poverty population had at least one
       civil legal need during that year.
          The 2008 study, conducted under the auspices of the A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research at
       Kennesaw State University, updated and assessed the level of access to the civil justice system available today. The
       study is based on a series of surveys with low and moderate income Georgia households and individuals, court
       systems, and providers of legal services. The study excluded persons who were not citizens or legal residents of the
       state. The study included public telephone surveys of randomly selected low and moderate income households,
       in-person interviews, and focus groups with hard-to-reach client populations that might not be reached through a
       telephone survey. In addition, the study included a telephone survey of Georgia attorneys regarding their participation
       in providing legal services on pro bono basis, as well as web-based surveys and focus groups with court personnel
       and legal services providers.
          These surveys combined produced significant findings about the kinds and numbers of problems that present
       a legal need that are experienced by persons and households of limited means across the state. This report is a
       presentation of those findings and is intended to inform and provide guidance for the next steps toward providing
       better access to civil justice in Georgia.


       What are the needs of low and moderate income households in Georgia,
       and how are they addressed?
       More than 60% of low and moderate income households in Georgia experience one or more civil legal needs per
       year. Low income households (defined as up to $30,000 annual income for a four person household) experience an
       average of three civil legal needs annually, totaling over two million civil legal needs per year. Households in the
       moderate income category (defined as up to $60,000 annual income for a four person household) experience an


8
    Legal Needs Among Low- and Moderate-Income Households in Georgia, Temple University Institute for Survey Research, June 1994.
2                      Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



average of 2.63 civil legal needs per year, for a total number of problems exceeding four million per year. While
different surveys produced somewhat different rankings, the most prevalent needs involved the following problems:
    »   Consumer (e.g., abusive collection, oppressive contract terms, disputes over amount owed)
    »   Housing (e.g., utility issues, vermin, home and housing repairs, homelessness)
    »   Health (e.g., disputes with insurance company or provider over charges, refusal of provider to accept Medicaid,
        invasion of privacy issues, access to mental health services, denial of emergency care, and problems with
        nursing home)
    »   Employment (e.g., discrimination (based on disability, criminal record, race or age) unemployment benefits,
        wage claims)
    »   Public Benefits (e.g., difficulty in applying, denials)
    »   Education (e.g., school discipline, poor quality)
    »   Family (e.g., child support, domestic violence, visitation, custody)
  Respondents addressed their civil legal needs in a variety of ways and sometimes did nothing, even though the
problems were perceived to be serious. About 75% of respondents who did not seek help said they did not realize
that their problem could be remedied with legal assistance. This is a key reason for not seeking legal assistance.
Others reported not knowing where they could go to seek legal assistance. In total, over ninety percent of respon-
dents to the public telephone survey and personal interviews stated they did not obtain legal help for their problem.
   The ability to obtain legal assistance impacts the individual’s opinion about how the problem is resolved through
the justice system. Almost two-thirds of respondents who were able to obtain legal assistance were satisfied with the
resolution of the problem. By contrast, over 60% of those respondents who were unable to obtain legal counsel and
represented themselves (pro se) in court were dissatisfied with the result.


What obstacles interfere with access to the justice system?
Court personnel report that unrepresented or self-represented litigants impede the efficient operation of the court
system. More than 95% of these respondents stated that a lack of understanding as to how the court process works
represents an obstacle to the courts’ ability to administer justice for all. Additionally, over 90% of court personnel
listed “pro se expectations for assistance” as an obstacle to smooth court operations. These problems are exacerbated
by the reality that there is a limited amount of pro bono or low cost legal services available. (More than 88% of court
personnel cited the lack of pro bono or low cost services as an obstacle.)
   The study shows that many low and moderate income Georgians are not sufficiently aware of available resources
to help resolve one’s legal needs. Among these resources are legal aid programs, mediation services, and small
claims courts. While some courts and other entities are developing online resources aimed at litigants, these resources
are not being used by most low and moderate income Georgia households. Although over two-thirds of households
participating in the survey reported that they had access to the Internet, over 94% of all households reported that
they have not used it to access legal forms.
                       Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                          3




How are attorneys and legal services providers responding?
Legal services programs charged with handling the legal needs of low income households are unable to meet that
need fully due to inadequate resources, described in the survey variously as caseload/time constraints, lack of
budgetary resources, lack of available attorneys, and lack of staff/personnel.
   The survey of attorneys who were self-identified as providing pro bono services provides some noteworthy findings
about the engagement of the private bar in addressing low and moderate income needs. A higher percentage of
attorneys in sole practice or small firms engage in pro bono representation than attorneys in larger firms. However,
the attorneys in large firms who do provide pro bono services reported spending significantly more hours on these
services than other attorneys. When asked why they provide pro bono representation, over 90% of the attorneys who
reported that they do provide these services said it was important due to a sense of professional responsibility as
well as their knowledge of the needs faced by low and moderate income clients. By contrast, those who did not
report that they engage in pro bono work identified lack of time (almost 85%) and family obligations (over 70%) as
the major discouraging factors behind their failure to provide these services. Another major problem for those
attorneys who do not report that they engage in pro bono work is lack of expertise in relevant areas of law. It appears
that many of these attorneys actually would provide the service if these problems can be overcome.
   The 2008 Georgia Legal Needs Study presents in-depth findings of the types and number of problems with legal
dimensions experienced by low and moderate income Georgia households and what steps they take to address those
needs. Further, the study examines the role played by the justice system, including the courts, private attorneys, and
legal service providers, in responding to these needs. This study is the first step in achieving the vision of equal
access to civil justice for all citizens of the State of Georgia.
4   Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia
                                                Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                      5




Introduction
     In 2005, the Supreme Court of Georgia joined the growing list of states that have created a formal state entity
     dedicated to the mission of improving access to justice. The Supreme Court of Georgia Equal Justice Commission
     Committee on Civil Justice (hereinafter “Committee”) was created by court order in 2005, began work in 2006,
     and was charged with the task of creating equal access to justice for all Georgians. The Committee’s mission
     statement is “to develop for implementation in Georgia a statewide, broad-based, publicly-known and supported,
     coordinated system for the poor which provides education, advice and tools to identify and address legal issues;
     ensures competent legal representation when appropriate; and promotes the efficient, effective and fair resolution
     of legal issues and disputes.”
        In 2007, the Committee commissioned a comprehensive assessment of the civil legal needs of Georgia’s low and
     moderate income population, as a method of meeting its mission of improving access to the civil justice system
     for all. The resulting 2007/2008 Georgia Legal Needs Study is the first to be conducted in the state since the 1994
     study, Legal Needs Among Low- and Moderate-Income Households in Georgia9, which was administered in conjunction
     with a national study conducted by the American Bar Association. The 1994 assessment showed that in any given
     year, 40 percent (40%) of Georgia’s poverty population has at least one civil legal need. Based on 2000 Census
     figures, it was estimated that just over 400,000 members of Georgia’s poverty population had at least one civil legal
     need during that year.
        Based on 2007 figures, the percentage of families in
     Georgia living below the poverty level (14.7%) is higher                 Georgia ranks 13th among the states for
     than that of the United States overall (13.3%) . Georgia
                                                       10
                                                                              persons living in poverty, and remains
     ranks 13 among the states for persons living in poverty,
              th
                                                                              below the national average in terms of
     and remains below the national average in terms of per                   per capita income.
     capita income. The percent of children in poverty in the
     state has remained fairly constant in the years 2002-2006
     at around 20%, which is higher than the national average of 18%. Approximately one in ten elderly residents of the
     state (over 65) live in poverty; 7.5% of all households have at least one elderly person. Women are more likely than
     men to live in poverty in Georgia (14.7% compared to 11.9%, respectively). African-Americans (25.3%) are more
     than twice as likely as white residents (10.5%) to live in poverty, as are Hispanic residents of any race (21.5%). A full
     third of all African-American households are below the poverty line.11
        This study produced noteworthy findings about the number of legal needs present among the populations of
     limited means across the state and the ability of those individuals to access the justice system. This report is a presenta-
     tion of those findings, and is intended to inform and provide guidance for the next steps toward achieving better
     access to civil justice in Georgia.




9
   Legal Needs Among Low- and Moderate-Income Households in Georgia, Temple University Institute for Survey Research, June 1994.
10
    The federal poverty definition consists of a series of thresholds based on family size and composition. In 2007, the poverty threshold for a family of two adults and two children was $20,650. Poverty status is not
   determined for people in military barracks, institutional quarters, or for unrelated individuals under age 18 (such as foster children). http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/08poverty.shtml.
11
   http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/08poverty.shtml.
6   Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia
                                                Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                               7




Methodology
        The 2008 study, conducted under the auspices of the A.L.
        Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research at Kennesaw        The study is based on a series of surveys with
        State University, assessed the level of access to the civil justice low and moderate income Georgia households
        system available today by asking respondents about their            and individuals, court systems, and with
        experiences for calendar year 2007. The study is based on           providers of legal services.
        a series of surveys with low and moderate income Georgia
        households and individuals, court systems, and with provid-
        ers of legal services. The study excluded persons who were not citizens or legal residents of the state.
           The first and largest component of the study was a public telephone survey. A Random Digit Dial (RDD) survey
        was conducted from a highly representative sample12 of low and moderate income households13 about their civil legal
        needs in 2007. A total of 1027 low income and 516 moderate income households distributed randomly throughout
        the state completed the survey. The second component was a telephone survey conducted with private attorneys
        from around the state regarding participation in pro bono services. A third component was a web-based survey
        administered to legal service providers and court personnel. This web-based survey’s target population was of indi-
        viduals who work for legal aid, non-profit and social service organizations, and faith based groups, and the state’s
        judicial system. Each group (judiciary and non-judiciary) received a survey tailored to the nature of its work. Fourth,
        in-person interviews were held with individuals selected based on their responses in the public telephone survey,
        and with persons defined as belonging to hard-to-reach client populations. The fifth component of the study consisted
        of eight focus groups held at different locations around the state: four with legal service providers and court personnel
        and four with members of the hard-to-reach client populations.
           The RDD survey took place from December 2007 through May 2008. Interviewers asked to speak with the adult
        family member who was most likely to know about family legal matters. The survey itself averaged 30 minutes in
        length. Respondents were asked a series of questions regarding their experiences, their living situations, the legal
        problems they may have had in the past year and how they had handled those problems.
           Caucasians constitute a majority of respondents, with African-Americans representing just over one-third of the
        total. Latinos – just two percent of respondents – are a distant third among ethnic groups. Close to 70 percent of
        respondents own or are buying a home, and nearly one-half are married. Most live in urban areas. With the exception
        of the youngest group surveyed (18-34 year olds), respondents are about evenly distributed across the other three age
        categories. In terms of employment situation, the largest number of respondents works full-time, with retirees
        constituting the next largest group.
          The great strength of the RDD study is that sampling is done in a random way from a known universe of possible
        subjects — in this case, all households with telephones in the state. By calling enough subjects who have low or
        moderate incomes and complete the questionnaire, such a study produces results that are likely to be accurate when
        projected to the entire universe being sampled. In this way, it is possible to draw conclusions about the state as a
        whole that can be accepted with a high degree of confidence from observations about the survey respondents.
12
     Samples for both the low and moderate-income households were drawn using random digit dialing (RDD) procedures.
13
     A low income household is defined as one with a total income that does not exceed 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. In 2007, the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for a household of four in the 48 contiguous United
     States and the District of Columbia was $20,650. For the purposes of this study, a low income household of four in 2007 would have an income of no more than $30,000 (approximately 150% of the 2007 FPL). A
     moderate income household is defined as one with an income between 150 – 300% of the Federal Poverty Level. For the purposes of this study, a moderate income household of four in 2007 would have an income
     of no more than $60,000 (approximately 300% of the 2007 FPL).
      8                                           Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



           While conclusions about the entire sampling frame can be drawn with confidence, it must be remembered that
        the universe from which the sample is drawn—households with a telephone—is only an approximation of the universe
        that the study seeks to measure. A number of low and even moderate income households do not have telephones
        and would likely be excluded or underrepresented in the sample. Further, some households may have limitations
        of language or hearing that prevented them from participating in the survey. Finally, some kinds of sensitive legal
        problems are difficult, under the best of conditions, to discuss with strangers. A telephone survey is less amenable
        to building the personal trust and confidence to induce the survey respondent to speak freely about sensitive matters
        like elder abuse, immigration problems, or a wide range of family issues.
           The kinds of clients and needs that are likely to be missed
        in a telephone survey like the RDD survey are precisely                                                                       The kinds of clients and needs that are likely
        those which are suspected to encounter the greatest barriers                                                                  to be missed in a telephone survey like the
        to the justice system, and thus, are among the most important                                                                 RDD survey are precisely those which are
        needs to be able to assess. In order to try to fill in some of                                                                suspected to encounter the greatest barriers
        the missing pieces of this puzzle, the Georgia Legal Needs                                                                    to the justice system, and thus, are among
        Study also conducted in-person interviews with subjects who                                                                   the most important needs to be able to
        were drawn from certain hard-to-reach clusters. These inter-                                                                  assess. In order to try to fill in some of the
        views used the same format as was employed in the RDD                                                                         missing pieces of this puzzle, the Georgia
        interviews, but were conducted face-to-face, over a longer                                                                    Legal Needs Study also conducted in-person
        time period, and under more relaxed circumstances.                                                                            interviews with subjects who were drawn
           Interviewers were sent to locations across the state where                                                                 from certain hard-to-reach clusters.
        they would encounter persons in targeted populations and
        incentives of $20 were offered to participants. A total of 204 field interviews were completed. Interviews followed the
        general format of the telephone surveys and most of the same questions were asked, although interviewees were
        permitted to respond about particular situations they had experienced related to their unique needs in more detail
        than was available within the format of the telephone survey. To the extent that some populations are excluded from
        the telephone sample, the characteristics of those groups will not likely be reflected in the data drawn from question-
        ing the sample.
           The demographics of the hard-to-reach survey population are shown in Figure 1, representing some of the kinds
        of households that might be less likely to be found in the RDD survey.14




14
      Of course, these populations do not at all exhaust the groups that would be unlikely to participate in an RDD type study. Other demographic cluster groups that could be considered would include persons with mental
     disabilities, alienated youth, persons in institutions, immigrants and refugees, the developmentally disabled, survivors of domestic violence, migrant farm workers and others. Anecdotally, it is known that persons in
     these groups do have significant legal needs. Since these groups are unlikely to be in the RDD study and are not represented here, the Georgia Legal Needs Study does not measure their needs, and further research
     will be required to draw conclusions about legal needs of these populations.
                                                 Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                   9




               Figure 1: Demographics of Hard-to-reach Respondents

                            34.8%
                                                          28.4%

                                                                                         17.2%
                                                                                                                       16.7%
                                                                                                                                                     10.8%
                                                                                                                                                                                    5.9%


                           Homeless                         Elderly                          Latino                Non-English                     Recently                           Deaf
                                                                                                                    Speaker                      Incarcerated



          The survey of attorneys was conducted in order to assess the motivations for engaging in pro bono work and to
        determine why some attorneys may not choose to undertake such work. The State Bar of Georgia provided a sample
                                                         of attorneys who had answered on their State Bar dues notice that
                                                         they had engaged in pro bono work in 2007, and a sample that
            The survey of attorneys was conducted        did not report that they had engaged in pro bono work in 2007.
            in order to assess the motivations for       The survey samples were not randomly selected from the general
            engaging in pro bono work and to             bar membership, but surveys were conducted randomly within
            determine why some attorneys may not         each group – those who did report to engage in pro bono work
            choose to undertake such work. The           and those who had not reported that they engaged in pro bono
            State Bar of Georgia provided a sample       work. A quota sample of 100 attorneys who were engaged in pro
            of attorneys who had answered on their       bono work in 2007 and 200 attorneys who did not report that
            State Bar dues notice that they had          they had engaged in pro bono work was set. A total of 371 surveys
            engaged in pro bono work in 2007, and a      were completed (including 221 attorneys who did not report that
            sample that did not report that they had     they had engaged in pro bono work and 150 who did report that
            engaged in pro bono work in 2007.            they engaged in pro bono work).15
                                                                Information from court personnel was sought using a different
                                                             methodology. This population was contacted by e-mail and asked
        to complete a web-based survey. Since the total number of potential respondents is not known, response rates cannot
        be calculated; however a high number (470) of respondents completed the survey. A web-based survey was also
        conducted with providers of a variety of types of legal services, such as housing assistance, family services, employ-
        ment assistance and training and general civil legal aid.




15
      Reliable statistics are unavailable as to the proportion of all Georgia attorneys who engage in pro bono, but based upon commentary from knowledgeable observers, it is likely that the survey over-sampled those
     involved in pro bono. Since the proportion of such individuals is not known, it was not possible to weight responses to account for this oversampling and any comparisons of lawyers across the two groups could not be
     reliably projected to the bar as a whole. However, due to the number surveyed in each group and the randomness of their selection within the group, conclusions drawn about the characteristics of each group should
     be highly reliable.
10                                            Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia




     Figure 2: Location of RDD Survey Respondents




Dade       Catoosa                                  Fannin                     Towns             Rabun
                                                                                                                                                    Low Income Respondents
                                                                     Union
                   Whitfield Murray
      Walker
                                             Gilmer                           White Habersham                                            Moderate Income Respondents
                                                                  Lumpkin                  Stephens
                         Gordon
     Chattooga                             Pickens
                                                             Dawson                                     Franklin
          Floyd                                                               Hall       Banks                           Hart
                                           Cherokee          Forsyth
                            Bartow                                                     Jackson
                                                                                                         Madison                Elbert
           Polk                        Cobb                                     Barrow               Clarke
                                                               Gwinnett
                       Paulding                                                                               Oglethorpe
                                                                                              Oconee
        Haralson                                                               Walton                                                          Lincoln
                               Douglas                   DeKalb                                                                     Wilkes
                  Carroll                 Fulton                     Rockdale
                                                                                         Morgan               Greene
                                                   Clayton              Newton                                            Taliaferro                  Columbia
                                                                                                                                        McDuffie
                                          Fayette            Henry                                                                   Warren
                             Coweta                                                                                                                       Richmond
               Heard                                                  Butts      Jasper
                                                    Spalding                                   Putnam               Hancock
                                                                                                                                      Glascock
                                                   Pike      Lamar                                      Baldwin
                   Troup                                               Monroe           Jones                                                Jefferson               Burke
                                 Meriwether                                                                               Washington
                                                      Upson
                                                                                  Bibb                    Wilkinson                                                 Jenkins
                        Harris                                                                                                                                                   Screven
                                                                   Crawford                                                          Johnson
                                          Talbot                                                Twiggs                                                Emanuel
                       Muscogee                                             Peach
                                                      Taylor
                                                                                Houston              Bleckley                                                 Candler
                                                                                                                         Laurens         Treutlen
                       Chattahoochee                                                                                                                                           Bulloch             Effingham
                                    Marion                     Macon
                                                    Schley                                Pulaski                               Montgomery
                                                                                                               Dodge                                Toombs             Evans
                            Stewart                                           Dooly                                             Wheeler
                                       Webster            Sumter                                                                                                                           Bryan
                                                                                                                                                              Tattnall                                    Chatham
                                                                               Crisp          Wilcox                      Telfair
                   Quitman                                                                                                           Jeff Davis                                          Liberty
                                               Terrell         Lee
                             Randolph                                                Turner                   Ben Hill                              Appling                    Long

                        Clay                                                Worth                         Irwin             Coffee             Bacon                 Wayne
                                     Calhoun         Dougherty
                                                                                              Tift                                                                                          McIntosh

                            Early           Baker                                                                                                        Pierce
                                                                                                          Berrien         Atkinson
                                                          Mitchell                                                                                                  Brantley                Glynn
                                 Miller                                      Colquitt           Cook
                         Seminole                                                                                 Lanier                          Ware

                                                                                                                                    Clinch                                       Camden
                                       Decatur            Grady       Thomas           Brooks                                                            Charlton
                                                                                                      Lowndes          Echols
                        Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                          11




What are the Substantive Legal Needs of
Low and Moderate Income Georgians?
 Legal Needs Identified by Low and Moderate Income Households

 Overview of the RDD Survey results
 The RDD survey was conducted with a highly representative sample of low income households and moderate
 income households to assess their civil legal needs. Each survey respondent was asked whether anyone in the house-
 hold had experienced any of a series of 113 common circumstances that would result in a legal problem. If so, the
 respondent was asked about the steps that were taken to resolve the problem or problems and about attitudes
 concerning the outcome. The map in Figure 2 depicts the location of each low and moderate income household
 that participated in the survey.

 Number of legal needs of low and moderate income Georgians per year
 Among all of the 1,543 households participating in the survey,
 62.2% of households had one or more legal problems over                Among all of the 1,543 households
 the course of 2007. On average, the households in the survey           participating in the survey, 62.2% of
 experienced 2.88 legal problems in the study year. Among               households had one or more legal problems
 the 1,027 low income households, 63.3% of households had               over the course of 2007. On average, the
 one or more legal problems, with a mean of 3 per year. The             households in the survey experienced 2.88
 516 moderate income households had an average of 2.63                  legal problems in the study year.
 legal problems per year, and 59.9% reported having experi-
 enced at least one legal problem.
    These findings are similar to the results of other legal needs studies done in other states over the past several
 years. Eight recent state-wide legal needs studies found roughly similar incidence of legal need per low income
 household per year in the following states:


         Figure 3: Legal Problems per Household in State Legal Needs Studies
  State Study                                        Legal Problems per household
  Montana                                                         3.5
  Tennessee                                                       3.3
  Oregon                                                          3.2
  Washington                                                      2.9
  Georgia                                                         2.8
  Connecticut                                                     2.7
  Massachusetts                                                   2.4
  Illinois                                                        1.7
  Vermont                                                         1.1
      12                                                                Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



           Georgia population in 2008 was approximately 9,685,74416.
        Of this total, 1.9 million persons live at or below 150% of the        There are more than 1.65 million households
        poverty rate, or – approximately 769,000 households. There             in lower to moderate income brackets for
        are more than 1.65 million households in lower to moderate             whom legal assistance is unaffordable.
        income brackets for whom legal assistance is unaffordable.    17


        This would mean that low income households in Georgia
        experience over 2.3 million legal problems in a year, and moderate income households have another 4.3 million legal
        problems each year.

        Substantive Legal Needs Identified
                                                                                                                                       Of all the legal needs reported, consumer problems repre-
                              Of all the legal needs reported, consumer                                                                sented 22.3%, followed by housing (15.8%), health (8.9%),
                              problems represented 22.3%, followed by                                                                  employment (8.4%), public benefits (7.7%), education (6.3%),
                              housing (15.8%), health (8.9%), employment                                                               family (5.8%), estates (4.1%), torts (3.5%) and other problems.
                              (8.4%), public benefits (7.7%), education                                                                Figure 4 shows the distribution of needs that were identified
                              (6.3%), family (5.8%), estates (4.1%), torts                                                             by respondents of the RDD survey as a percentage of all the
                              (3.5%) and other problems.                                                                               legal needs reported.




                              Figure 4: Substantive Legal Needs Reported in RDD Study
             % of All Legal Needs Reported




                                                                                                                                                           All                   Low Income                                   Moderate Income
                                             30%
                                             25%
                                             20%
                                             15%
                                             10%
                                             5%
                                             0%
                                                   Consumer

                                                              Housing

                                                                          Health

                                                                                   Employment

                                                                                                Public Benefits

                                                                                                                  Education

                                                                                                                              Family

                                                                                                                                         Estates

                                                                                                                                                   Torts

                                                                                                                                                           Other Civil Rights

                                                                                                                                                                                Taxes

                                                                                                                                                                                        Juvenile

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Problems of the Disabled

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Vetarens and Military

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Immigration*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Other




           * Notation: Since undocumented persons not included in survey, this figure would not include many of the legal issues faced
           by households that include persons who are undocumented, and therefore would be likely to have immigration problems.



16
     U.S. Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/
17
     Household total income by family size taken from the U.S. Census Bureau and based on 2008 figures: http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/broker.
     Based on the 2008 HHS Poverty Guidelines: http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/08poverty.shtml
                                                            Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                                                                     13




   Generally, the needs experienced by low income households are fairly similar to moderate income households,
although there are some significant differences between the two groups. See Figure 4. The following table illustrates
the differences in problems experienced between the two income groups:


                                     Figure 5: Differences between Low and Moderate Income Households
 Legal Problem                                                                                               Low income (%)                                                                                  Moderate income (%)
 Consumer                                                                                                                      21.1                                                                                            25.1
 Housing                                                                                                                       16.8                                                                                            13.4
 Health                                                                                                                        8.5                                                                                             9.8
 Employment                                                                                                                    8.9                                                                                             7.5
 Public Benefits                                                                                                               9.0                                                                                             4.7
 Torts                                                                                                                         2.9                                                                                             5.1
 Family                                                                                                                        5.9                                                                                             5.5
 Education                                                                                                                     6.3                                                                                             6.2

Specific problems within the major categories of legal needs that were experienced by low and moderate income households

Consumer
Among consumer problems reported by survey respondents the most significant was abusive collection practices,
reported by 13.4% of households. Other problems included oppressive contract terms (8.4%), unfair denial of a loan
(6.4%), a dispute over an amount owed (6.7%), need for contract advice (6.0%), identity theft (5.3%), threat of suit
by a creditor (4.3%), defective work (3.8%), repossession (2.3%), problems with loans or disputes with lenders (2.1%),
bankruptcy (1.7%) and wage garnishment (1.3%). See Figure 6.



   Figure 6: Consumer Problems
                                                                                                                                                                       All               Low Income                                           Moderate Income
                               15%
   % of Households Reporting
     Substantive Problem




                               10%



                               5%



                               0%
                                       Abusive Collection


                                                                 Oppressive
                                                              Contract Terms

                                                                               Denied Loan

                                                                                              Dispute Over
                                                                                             Amount Owed

                                                                                                             Contract Advice


                                                                                                                                 Identity Theft




                                                                                                                                                                        Defective Work


                                                                                                                                                                                         Insurance Dispute


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Repossession

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Problems w/ Loans or
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Disputes w/ Lenders

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bankruptcy


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Garnishment
                                                                                                                                                  Threatened w/ Suit
14                      Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia




        Consumer problems experienced by low and moderate income respondents were very similar, with some exceptions.
     Low income respondents were slightly more likely to suffer abusive debt collection, become a victim of identity theft
     or be threatened with suit by a creditor. In contrast, moderate income households were slightly more likely to have
     a dispute over amounts owed, need contract advice, have an insurance problem or need bankruptcy help.

     Housing
     Among housing problems, utility issues were the highest single component reported (11.1% of all households
     surveyed). Other housing problems among low and moderate income households surveyed included problems with
     vermin (4.7%), home repair (4.2%), public services (3.8%), obtaining rental repairs (3.4%), homelessness (2.9%),
     housing discrimination (3.2%), getting basic services (2.9%), problems with rent or deposits (2.4%), eviction (1.9%),
     and land use restrictions (2.2%). See Figure 7.
        The low income households were more likely to have problems with utilities, vermin, homelessness, rent or
     deposits, evictions or a health hazard. Generally, moderate income households experienced slightly fewer housing
     problems than those of low income.




                                     John said there was a time in 2007 when he needed an attorney but did not have one.
                                     Instead, he tried valiantly on his own to save his home from foreclosure, but to no
                                     avail. His story dates back to 2004 when he wanted to buy a house. John checked
                                     with a lender who gave him a checklist of things he needed to do, including paying off
                                     credit card debts, save money for the down payment, closing costs and attorney’s
                                     fees, etc. It took him a year to do all of these things but he was determined to buy a
                                     house. John was even able to get his credit rating up to 720. He said he went by the
                                     book in doing everything he was supposed to do. In 2005, he was finally able to buy
                                     his house. He did not have twenty percent to put down so he was told by the lender to
                                     get one of those “arm loans” in which his payment would be a set amount for twenty
                                     four months. After that time, he was told his house will appreciate and he will be able
                                     to get a fixed loan. Following the purchase, he never missed a mortgage or insurance
                                     payment. After twenty four months, John contacted the lender again about a fixed
                                     rate. He was told that there was nothing they could do and they did not have any
                                     programs. Instead, John’s payment went up by $1400. He could not afford that. John
                                     sought help from every avenue or source he thought was available. He even used pre-
                                     paid legal services but they told John there was not anything they could do to help
                                     him. John looked into hiring a private attorney but the retainers were astronomical. He
                                     turned in every direction. He tried a quick sale but the lender would not cooperate.
                                     John was at his wit’s end. He lost the house. John, to this day, suspects that the
                                     lender gave him false information. It is terrible, he says. John said he followed the
                                     rules, made preparations, and did everything he was told, but still lost his home.
                                                         Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                                                                                          15




   Figure 7: Housing Problems
                                                                                                                                                                                                     All              Low Income                     Moderate Income
    % of Households Reporting



                                14%
      Substantive Problem



                                12%
                                10%
                                 8%
                                 6%
                                 4%
                                 2%
                                 0%
                                      Utilities

                                                          Vermin

                                                                       Home Repair

                                                                                     Public Services

                                                                                                         Repairs

                                                                                                                   Homeless

                                                                                                                                           Discrimination

                                                                                                                                                            Basic Services

                                                                                                                                                                                   Rent or Deposit

                                                                                                                                                                                                       Eviction

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Land Use
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Restrictions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Health Hazard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Foreclosure

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Public Housing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Title

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Mobile Home
Health
Key health problems identified in the survey by both income groups included a dispute with a provider over charges
(9.7%), insurance disputes (7.6%), provider refusal to accept Medicaid (2.3%), violation of patient privacy (2.3%),
problems with access to mental health services (1.5%), denial of emergency care (1.4%) and nursing home problems
(1.2%). See Figure 8.
    Low income households were slightly more likely to experience the refusal of a provider to accept Medicaid,
problems with access to mental health services and nursing home problems. Moderate income households reported
slightly more problems with insurance and privacy issues.


   Figure 8: Health Problems
                                                                                                                                                                                                     All             Low Income                      Moderate Income
    % of Households Reporting




                                12%
      Substantive Problem




                                10%
                                8%
                                6%
                                4%
                                2%
                                0%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Denied
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        emergency care
                                                  Dispute w/provider
                                                       over charges




                                                                                     Insurance dispute




                                                                                                                      Refusal of provider to
                                                                                                                          accept Medicaid




                                                                                                                                                                             Privacy




                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Access to Mental
                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Health Services




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Nursing homes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  problems
     16                                                   Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



       Public Benefits
       A combination of low and moderate income households reported experiencing problems with public benefits. These
       included being discouraged from applying for public benefits to which they believed they were entitled (7.5%), being
       unfairly denied public benefits (7.1%), suffering an unfair cut in benefit levels (4.0%), and problems with language
       access (0.4%). Additionally, 3.6% of all households reported having had some other type of public benefits problem.
       See Figure 9.
          Low income households were much more likely than moderate income households to experience problems
       regarding public benefits, reporting about double the number.


               Figure 9: Public Benefits Problems
                                                                                                                                   All            Low Income                        Moderate Income
                                                    10%
                                                    9%
                        % of Households Reporting




                                                    8%
                           Substantive Problem




                                                    7%
                                                    6%
                                                    5%
                                                    4%
                                                    3%
                                                    2%
                                                    1%
                                                    0%
                                                           Discouraged                       Denial                        Unfair Cut                     Language                         Other
                                                          from Applying                                                    in Benefits                     Access



       Employment
       Job discrimination, reported by 9.6% of survey respondents, was overwhelmingly the most significant employment
       problem reported by both income groups. Other employment problems included difficulties with unemployment
       insurance (2.4%), wages (3.0%), unsafe working conditions (2.5%), privacy (2.7%), sexual harassment (1.4%),
       pensions (1.2%), retaliation (1.2%), and workers compensation (0.8%). See Figure 10.
          The low income households were far more likely to report legal problems involving discrimination, unemployment
       insurance, unsafe working conditions and workers compensation. Moderate income households reported a slightly
       higher percentage of concerns with privacy.
          Because discrimination was such an overwhelming
       concern of survey respondents, further analysis of the                                                                         The low income households were more likely to
       data was conducted. Discrimination was perceived by                                                                            report discrimination, particularly with regard to
       both income groups on the basis of disability (2.3%),                                                                          discrimination on the basis of disability, criminal
       criminal record (1.9%), race (1.6%), age (1.6%), children                                                                      record, race, children, marital status and ethnicity.
       (0.6%), sex (0.6%), marital status (0.3%), ethnicity (0.3%),18
18
     As noted previously, persons of minority ethnic origins, particularly Latinos, are underrepresented in the survey population and therefore this figure is likely to be understated.
                                                        Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                                                   17




   Figure 10: Employment Problems

                                                                                                                                                      All           Low Income                                           Moderate Income
                                      12%
      % of Households Reporting
         Substantive Problem



                                      10%
                                            8%
                                            6%
                                            4%
                                            2%
                                            0%
                                                        Discrimination



                                                                                      Unemployment



                                                                                                               Wages


                                                                                                                       Unsafe Working
                                                                                                                           Conditions


                                                                                                                                                Privacy



                                                                                                                                                                   Sexual Harassment



                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pension



                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Retaliation



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Workers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Compensation
religion (0.3%) and sexual orientation (0.2%). The low income households were more likely to report discrimination,
particularly with regard to discrimination on the basis of disability, criminal record, race, children, marital status
and ethnicity. See Figure 11.


   Figure 11: Nature of Employment Discrimination Reported

                                                                                                                                                All               Low Income                                           Moderate Income
                                                 3.0%
                     % of Households Reporting




                                                 2.5%
                        Substantive Problem




                                                 2.0%

                                                 1.5%

                                                 1.0%

                                                 0.5%

                                                 0.0%
                                                                         Disability


                                                                                             Criminal Record


                                                                                                                Race


                                                                                                                       Age

                                                                                                                                        Because of
                                                                                                                                          Children


                                                                                                                                                            Sex


                                                                                                                                                                                       Marital Status


                                                                                                                                                                                                           Ethnicity


                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Religion


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Sexual
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Orientation
18                                      Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



 Education
 Education problems reported by both low and moderate income households include discipline (6.7%), poor quality
 (4.4%), dangerous conditions (1.6%), denial of transfer (1.8%), student misclassification (1.2%), truancy (1.0%),
 denial of special education (1.0%), denial of enrollment (0.6%) and language difficulties (0.1%). Moderate income
 households were more likely to report problems with poor quality, denial of transfer or denial of enrollment, while
 low income households reported higher numbers of problems regarding discipline, misclassification, truancy and
 denial of access to special education services. See Figure 12.


     Figure 12: Education Problems
                                                                                                                All             Low Income         Moderate Income
                                   8%
       % of Households Reporting




                                   7%
          Substantive Problem




                                   6%
                                   5%
                                   4%
                                   3%
                                   2%
                                   1%
                                   0%
                                        Discipline



                                                     Poor Quality



                                                                    Dangerous
                                                                     Condition


                                                                                 Transfer



                                                                                            Misclassification



                                                                                                                      Truancy



                                                                                                                                      Denied
                                                                                                                                   Special Ed


                                                                                                                                                   Denied
                                                                                                                                                Enrollment


                                                                                                                                                             Language
 Family Law
 In regards to family law, low and moderate income households perceived child support (4.9%) to be their biggest
 legal need, followed by domestic violence (3.2%), visitation (2.3%), custody (2.1%), property (1.9%), paternity (1.7%),
 simple divorce (1.2%), and name change (0.8%). Low income households reported a greater need for help with




     “Linda” said her divorce was an example of where not having a lawyer took her ten months to
     get a divorce from a five month marriage. She could not afford an attorney, and going against
     her husband’s attorney was difficult. Linda said she had to do all of the research herself and it
     was difficult. It was hard to find the right way to present herself. She did research online and
     at the libraries, looking online for anything that applied to Georgia specifically. Linda found a
     legal secretary who looked over her paperwork but she was not serving in any official
     capacity, just a friend of a friend. How satisfied was she with the outcome? In the end, she
     said she was saddled with all of the debt of the marriage and not happy about that. Her ex-
     husband has some of her property that she will never get back.
                                                     Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                                                                19




child support, domestic violence, visitation, simple divorce, and name change, while moderate income house-
holds reported more problems with division of property.


   Figure 13: Family Problems
                                                                                                                                                    All                   Low Income                                    Moderate Income
                                           6%
              % of Households Reporting
                 Substantive Problem




                                           5%
                                           4%
                                           3%
                                           2%
                                           1%
                                           0%
                                                 Child               Domestic Visitation                                 Custody          Property                        Paternity                          Simple                                  Name
                                                Support              Violence                                                                                                                                Divorce                                Change




Overview of results of interviews with Hard-to-Reach Populations
Figure 14 represents the broad scope of legal needs that were reported by all hard-to-reach survey respondents and
by those hard-to-reach populations of low income. An insufficient number of the hard-to-reach survey respondents
were of moderate income and this prevented the drawing of independent conclusions about the legal needs of
moderate income hard-to-reach populations.


   Figure 14: Substantive Needs Reported by Hard-to-Reach Households

                                                                                                                            All (both low and moderate income)                                                                                  Low Income
                                          25%
    Reported by Hard to Reach




                                          20%
         % of All Needs




                                          15%

                                          10%

                                          5%

                                          0%
                                                Consumer

                                                           Housing

                                                                     Health

                                                                              Employment

                                                                                           Public Benefits

                                                                                                             Education

                                                                                                                         Family

                                                                                                                                  Torts

                                                                                                                                          Estates

                                                                                                                                                     Other Civil Rights

                                                                                                                                                                          Taxes

                                                                                                                                                                                  Juvenile

                                                                                                                                                                                             Problems of the Disabled

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Veterans and Military

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Immigration

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Other
20                      Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



    There are some significant differences with respect to the frequency of some reported legal needs. The following
 table illustrates the differences in problems experienced between the hard-to-reach respondents and RDD households:



     Figure 15: Comparison of Legal Problems Reported by Both Hard-to-Reach and RDD Respondents
     Legal Problem                            Hard-to-Reach (%)                                RDD (%)
     Consumer                                         19.6                                       22.4
     Housing                                          21.8                                       15.8
     Health                                           6.1                                         8.9
     Employment                                       11.4                                        8.5
     Family Law                                       7.8                                         5.5
     Civil Rights                                     3.3                                         2.0
     Torts                                            2.3                                         4.1
     Education                                        3.6                                         6.3



    In reviewing the differences between the
 results reported by the hard-to-reach populations           The data shows that RDD households experience more
 and the RDD households, the contrast within                 consumer, health, education and torts problems, while hard-
 some of the broad substantive categories presented          to-reach populations experience more problems related
 above are remarkable.                                       to housing, employment, civil rights, and family law.


 Consumer
 With respect to consumer problems, hard-to-reach respondents were much more likely than RDD respondents to
 suffer abusive collection tactics (reported by 24.5% of hard-to-reach households, as compared to 13.4% of RDD
 households), have a dispute over amount owed to a creditor (24.0% compared to 6.7%), be threatened with a suit
 by a creditor (24.0% to 3.7%) or experience repossession of property (24.5% to 2.3%).

 Housing
 Among housing problems, homelessness (30.9% compared to 2.9%), utilities (21.6% to 11.1%), problems obtaining
 repairs (16.2% to 3.4%), discrimination (14.7% to 2.7%), access to basic services (13.7% to 2.9%), rent or deposit
 problems (9.8% to 2.4%), eviction (15.7% to 1.9%), health hazards (6.4% to 1.4%) and public housing problems
 (6.4% to 0.6%) were much more frequent among the hard-to-reach populations than in RDD households.

 Health
 Hard-to-reach households were more likely than RDD to have a health insurance dispute (14.7% compared to 7.6%),
 be denied emergency care (7.8% to 1.4%), experience nursing home problems (5.0% to 1.2%), be refused Medicaid
 (4.9% to 2.3%), suffer violation of privacy (4.9% to 2.3%) or be denied access to mental health care (2.5% to 1.5%).
                                                     Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                                                     21




Employment
Employment problems more prevalent among the hard-to-reach population included discrimination (39.7% compared
to 9.6%), unsafe working conditions (10.8% to 2.5%), privacy (8.8% to 2.7%), retaliation (3.9% to 1.2%), sexual
harassment (3.4% to 1.4%) and pensions (2.9% to 1.2%). The nature of discrimination reported by hard-to-reach
respondents is more likely to be based upon a criminal record (12.7% compared to 1.9%), race (8.3% to 1.6%),
disability (5.4% to 2.3%), age (4.4% to 1.6%), gender (2.9% to 0.6%) or ethnicity (2.0% to 0.3%).

Education
Education problems reported by the hard-to-reach respondents were more often misclassification (2.9% compared
to 1.2%), transfer (3.9% to 1.8%), denial of special education (2.0% to 1.0%), denial of enrollment (1.5% to 0.6%), or
language difficulties (0.5% to 0.1%).

Family Law
Legal needs within the family law category also showed contrasts between the hard-to-reach population and RDD
households. These included problems with child support (11.3% compared to 4.9%), visitation (12.3% to 2.3%),
custody (12.7% to 2.1%), property (13.7% to 1.9%), and domestic violence (8.3% to 3.2%).


   Figure 16: Comparison of Legal Needs Reported by Hard-to-Reach and RDD Households

                                                                                                                                                                                   RDD                                           Hard to Reach
                                 25%
    % of All Reported Problems




                                 20%

                                 15%

                                 10%

                                 5%

                                 0%
                                       Consumer

                                                  Housing

                                                            Health

                                                                     Employment

                                                                                  Public Benefits

                                                                                                    Education

                                                                                                                Family

                                                                                                                         Torts

                                                                                                                                 Estates

                                                                                                                                           Other Civil Rights

                                                                                                                                                                Taxes

                                                                                                                                                                        Juvenile

                                                                                                                                                                                   Problems of the Disabled


                                                                                                                                                                                                              Veterans and Military

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Immigration

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Other
22                                              Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



 Legal Needs as Identified by Service Providers
 A different perspective concerning the civil legal needs of low and moderate income households in Georgia is provided
 by the survey of legal and social service providers. This component included a web-based survey of professionals
 working directly with the client population in a range of agencies including legal services, immigration assistance,
 information and referral, emergency housing, homeless assistance, employment assistance, job training, domestic
 violence, family support, education, disability assistance, mental health, HIV/AIDS, senior service, veterans and other
 similar agencies. One hundred and seventy-nine individuals responded to the survey, and approximately 25% of
 these respondents were legal services providers.
    Service providers were asked about the legal needs
 of their clients in two different ways. First, they were         When asked to prioritize what they considered to
 asked to prioritize what they considered to be the three         be the three most important needs experienced
 most important needs experienced by their clients.               by their clients, service providers listed housing,
 Figure 17 is a compilation of the responses to this first        family law, and consumer law.
 question. Housing and family law topped the list, being
 mentioned by 20.5% and 20.0% of the providers respectively. Consumer law (11.9%), public benefits (11.4%),
 disability rights (7.6%), and domestic violence (7.1%) were also frequently mentioned.


     Figure 17: Top Three Legal Needs According to Providers

                                25%
     % of All Needs Mentioned




                                20%


                                15%


                                10%


                                5%


                                0%
                                      Housing

                                                Family

                                                         Consumer

                                                                    Public Benefits

                                                                                      Disability

                                                                                                   Domestic
                                                                                                    Violence
                                                                                                               Trusts and
                                                                                                                  Estates

                                                                                                                            Health Care

                                                                                                                                          Community
                                                                                                                                           Education

                                                                                                                                                       Employment

                                                                                                                                                                    Education

                                                                                                                                                                                Elder

                                                                                                                                                                                        Immigration

                                                                                                                                                                                                             Other
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Civil Rights

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Other




   Providers were also asked about which substantive legal needs their clients were actually seeking. See Figure 18.
 While the relative order of problems is similar to Figure 17, the distribution is much more even, with health, employ-
 ment and elder law mentioned nearly as frequently as the more traditional areas of representation.
                                                            Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                                                                                       23




   Figure 18: Needs Most Sought by Clients According to Providers

                               14%

                               12%
    % of All Needs Mentioned




                               10%

                               8%

                               6%

                               4%

                               2%

                               0%
                                     Housing or Utilities

                                                            Family

                                                                     Consumer

                                                                                Domestic Violence

                                                                                                    Public Benefits

                                                                                                                      Health

                                                                                                                               Employment

                                                                                                                                            Disability Law

                                                                                                                                                             Elder Law

                                                                                                                                                                         Wills and Estates

                                                                                                                                                                                             Community Services

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Immigration

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Insurance

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Other Civil Rights

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Military/Veterans

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Contracts/Tax
Legal Needs as Perceived by Court Personnel
Another perspective on the legal needs confronted by
low and moderate income households came from court                                                                                                                  Judges and court staff were asked about what
personnel, who also participated in a web-based survey.                                                                                                             legal issues were being presented to the
Judges and court staff were asked about what legal needs                                                                                                            courts…Family law, housing and consumer
were being presented to the courts. Figure 19, on page 24,                                                                                                          issues were the issues most commonly cited.
shows their responses. Family law, housing and consumer
problems were the needs most commonly cited.
    These data reflect the demand for court services, rather than the broad scope of legal problems that low and
moderate income households experience. This is due to the fact that many legal problems may never be presented
to the courts, particularly if the affected household does not secure legal assistance. Also, most of the respondents
in the survey of court personnel are employed in the state court system (see Figure 20 on page 24), so it would be
less likely that problems such as public benefits or veterans issues (normally resolved in administrative hearings) or
problems like employment discrimination, bankruptcy or civil rights (more commonly handled in the federal courts)
would be reported.
24                                                         Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia




        Figure 19: Legal Needs Reported by Court Personnel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   All Respondents                                                                                               Judges
                     80%
 % of Respondents
 Mentioning Issues




                     60%

                     40%

                     20%

                     0%
                           Family

                                    Housing or Utilities

                                                              Consumer

                                                                         Juvenile Issues

                                                                                           Wills, Trusts and Estates

                                                                                                                       Contracts/Taxes

                                                                                                                                          Guardianship and Conservator

                                                                                                                                                                         Health Care

                                                                                                                                                                                       Elder Law

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Immigration

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Public Benefits

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Unemployment or
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Workers Compensation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Disability/ADA Issues

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Other Civil Rights

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Employment Discrimination

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Veteran and Military Issues

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Other
         Figure 20: Position of Court Respondent

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Superior Court Judge,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  including Senior Judge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  State Court Judge,
                                                                                                                                         15%                                                                                                      including Senior Judge
                                                              25%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Juvenile Court Judge
                                                                                                                                                                                   8%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Magistrate Court Judge

                      1%                                                                                                                                                                                                                          City or Municipal
                                                                                                                                                                                   9%                                                             Court Judge
                     0%                                     9%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Probate Court Judge
                                                                                                                                                      9%                                                                                          Court Staff
                                                                                           9%
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Federal District
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Court Judge

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Federal Magistrate
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Court Judge
                                                  Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                     25




What happens when a low or moderate income household
in Georgia experiences a civil legal need?
       How many of the legal needs of low and moderate income households are addressed
       with the assistance of an attorney?
        When respondents participating in the RDD study
                                                                           Nearly three quarters of those interviewed said
        reported that their household had experienced circum-
                                                                           they tried to resolve their legal issue on their
        stances that ordinarily entail legal problems, they were
                                                                           own, without legal help. 17.1% took no action at
        asked about the steps they took to address these needs.
                                                                           all and remained dissatisfied with the outcome,
        Figure 21 displays what the respondent households said
                                                                           and only 9.1% were able to obtain some form of
        about how they handled their problems. Overwhelmingly
                                                                           help from an attorney.
        they dealt with those problems without any help from an
        attorney. Nearly three quarters of those interviewed said
        they tried to resolve the issue by themselves without legal help. 17.1% took no action at all, though they remained
        dissatisfied with the outcome of the matter.19 Only 9.1% were able to obtain some form of help from an attorney.


               Figure 21: Unmet Legal Need

                            Tried without legal help
                                                                                                                                     Received legal assistance
                            73.7%                                                                                                    9.1%

                                                                                                                                                                    Legal Aid 1.6%


                                                                                                                                                                     Pro bono, reduced fee
                                                                                                                                                                     or time payments
                                                                                                                                                                     3.8%


                                                                                                                                                                     Full fee 3.8%



                                                                                                 Did not try, unresolved
                                                                                                 17.1%




19
     Actually about one quarter of those with legal problems did not take any action to resolve the matter, but, of these, about half were satisfied with the outcome. Those who took no action but were satisfied with the
     outcome are excluded from the calculations in Figure 21, since they can’t be regarded as having had a legal problem.
26                       Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



 With the Assistance of an Attorney
 Of the 9.1% who did obtain some help from an attorney, 3.8% of the respondents said they went to private lawyers
 who charged full legal fees for the services provided. Another 3.8% went to private lawyers who allowed the house-
 hold to pay fees over time, charged a reduced fee, or provided services on a pro bono basis. While survey data does
 not allow a precise calculation of the percentage who received free legal services from a private attorney, it is possible
 to estimate that less than 1.0% of survey respondents received such services based upon data from the survey of
 attorneys. Legal services programs provided free legal assistance to 1.6% of low and moderate income households
 who had legal problems.


 Without the Assistance of an Attorney
 Using the estimate of the total number of legal needs developed in the previous section related to the results of the
 RDD survey, it is possible to estimate the unmet need for legal assistance, defined as having an attorney to assist
 with a legal problem encountered by a household. If households are receiving legal help with 9.1% of their legal
 problems through the current delivery system, then it is estimated that low and moderate income households in
 Georgia encounter about six million legal problems, perceived to be civil in nature, for which they receive no legal
 assistance. (90.9% of 6.6 million) If one eliminates all of the civil legal problems which the household resolves
 satisfactorily without legal assistance, this still leaves 3.3 million legal issues for which low and moderate income
 Georgia households need, but cannot find legal assistance. On this basis it is estimated that, every year, low and
 moderate income households in Georgia are without legal assistance to confront about 2.1 million legal issues that
 caused the household trouble and as to which they are not satisfied with the outcome. 1.3 million such problems
 caused the household a lot of trouble.


 For households that found a lawyer to assist them with a legal issue,
 what form of legal services were provided?
 RDD respondents, who said they did receive the assistance of an attorney when dealing with their legal problems,
 were also asked about the nature of services that were provided by the attorney. Figure 22 shows a compilation of
 their responses. In 13.1% of the matters, respondents said that the attorney did not help them. It is not clear whether
 this response indicates that the attorney did not accept the case (if so, the estimate of the access to justice gap above
 is understated) or whether the attorney provided assistance but the client did not think the assistance was helpful.
 In 43.5% of matters, the respondents reported that they were provided with advice only. The client was represented
 in a trial or hearing in 33.0% of cases, and assisted with negotiation in 20.8% of matters.
                      Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                        27




   Figure 22: Form of Services Provided

        50%
                                                 43.4%
        45%
        40%
        35%
                  33.0%
        30%
        25%
                                  20.8%
        20%
                                                                             13.1%          14.5%
        15%
        10%
                                                                3.2%
         5%
         0%
                   Hearing       Negotiation     Legal Advice   Referral    Did Not Help       Other



Why did so few low and moderate income households obtain legal assistance?
About 87% of households with legal problems did not
seek legal assistance. A key reason for not seeking legal         About 87% of households with legal problems
assistance is lack of understanding of the legal nature of        did not seek legal assistance.
the problem. Households that had legal problems were
asked if they knew that the problem was legal in nature.
Only about a quarter of respondents said that they were aware of the legal issue involved. See, Figure 23.


   Figure 23: Did Respondent Know the Problem was Legal?


        Households that did not
        try to resolve problem                                                                  Yes
                                                                                                27%




                             No, or don’t know

                                       73%
      28                                                                     Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



            Households with civil legal needs that did not look for
        legal assistance either tried to resolve the problem on         Households with civil legal problems that did not
        their own, sought help from friends, family, or coworkers,      look for legal assistance either tried to resolve the
        or from an advocacy or community organization, adopted          problem on their own, sought help from friends,
        other, unspecified, strategies or did nothing about the         family, or coworkers, or from an advocacy or
        problem. Among households that did nothing, the main            community organization, adopted other,
        reason given for doing nothing included that they did           unspecified, strategies or did nothing about the
        not know that the problem was a legal problem (18%),            problem. Among households that did nothing, the
        believed nothing could be done about the problem (16.7%),       main reason given for doing nothing included
        did not want the hassle (7.5%), or did not know where to        that they did not know that the problem was a
        go for help (7.1%). A possible explanation for why respon-      legal problem (18%), believed nothing could be
        dents with legal problems did not seek legal assistance         done about the problem (16.7%), did not want
        would be that the household did not regard the problem          the hassle (7.5%), or did not know where to go
        to be serious or significant. Survey data reveals that this     for help (7.1%).
        explanation does not adequately account for the low level
        of seeking legal assistance. As an indication of how serious
        or significant the legal problem was to the respondent, RDD respondents were asked about how much trouble the
        legal issue had caused. See Figure 24. Nearly 66% replied that their problem caused either some level of trouble
        or significant trouble and 40.4% caused significant trouble.20


                Figure 24: How Much Trouble did the Legal Problem Cause?
                             % with Legal Problem Characterizing Trouble
                               Caused as “Some” or “A lot of trouble”




                                                                           100%

                                                                           80%

                                                                           60%

                                                                           40%

                                                                           20%

                                                                            0%
                                                                                  Disabilities
                                                                                                 Domestic Abuse


                                                                                                                  Health

                                                                                                                           Juvenile

                                                                                                                                      Benefits

                                                                                                                                                 Employment

                                                                                                                                                              Immigration

                                                                                                                                                                            Family

                                                                                                                                                                                     All

                                                                                                                                                                                           Consumer

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rental Housing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Owner Housing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Schools

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Civil Rights

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Guardianship




20
     Disabilities, domestic abuse, health, juvenile, public benefits, employment, immigration and family problems were seen as causing the most trouble for the household. For example, 69.6% of those who claimed issues
     concerning disabilities said this issue caused “a lot of trouble.” Similarly 63.4% of those who claim to have experienced issues of domestic violence said it caused “a lot of trouble.” For those claiming to have issues
     involving the schools and education, there were almost an equal number who claim the problem caused “a lot of trouble” (29.3%) as those who said it only caused “some trouble” (30.9%).
                       Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                               29




What were the results of the various strategies employed by
the surveyed households in dealing with their legal problems?
 Satisfaction with the Outcome
 The level of satisfaction with the outcome of legal problems experienced by RDD survey households was profoundly
 affected by the way in which their legal need was handled. If the household did nothing, slightly more than half of
 the respondents reported being dissatisfied with the outcome. See Figure 25.



    Figure 25: Whether Satisfied with the Outcome

               (Among households that did not try to resolve problem)




                                                                                      Yes
                                No
                            52%                                                       48%




 Satisfaction Without the Use of an Attorney—Being “Self Represented”
 If the person with the legal need chose to be “self-represented,” satisfaction levels were moderate. See Figure 26.
 22.2% of the respondents were “very satisfied,” and 33.6% were “somewhat satisfied,” for a total of 55.8%. However,
 slightly less (47.2%) reported that they were “very” or “somewhat” dissatisfied.
    On the other hand, if the person
 with a problem was only “self repre-           Nearly three quarters of those interviewed said they tried to resolve
 sented” because they could not find a          their legal issue on their own, without legal help. 17.1% took no
 lawyer, although they wanted one, the          action at all and remained dissatisfied with the outcome, and only
 level of satisfaction plummets. More           9.1% were able to obtain some form of help from an attorney.
 than 60% (61.7%) of respondents in
30                     Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



 this category were dissatisfied with the outcome of their case. Some 46.4% reported being “very dissatisfied” and
 another 15.3% “somewhat dissatisfied.” See Figure 27. Where the party wanted a lawyer but did not have one, only
 17.3% were “very satisfied,” and 21.0% were “somewhat satisfied,” for a total of 38.3%.


     Figure 26: Satisfaction – Self Representation

                        Very Dissatisfied                                      Very Satisfied
                              31.4%                                            22.2%




                                                                               Somewhat Satisfied
                  Somewhat Dissatisfied
                                                                               30.6%
                              15.8%




     Figure 27: Satisfaction where Self Representation is Involuntary
                                                                      Very Satisfied
                                                                      17.3%




                  Very Dissatisfied
                        46.4%
                                                                                       Somewhat Satisfied
                                                                                       21.0%




                                                                      Somewhat Dissatisfied
                                                                      15.3%
                       Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                           31




Satisfaction with Results when Assisted by an Attorney
Households that were represented by a lawyer had much higher levels of satisfaction with the outcomes of their
needs. See Figure 28. Of those surveyed who were assisted by an attorney, 65.1% reported some level of satisfaction
(40.9% were very satisfied, 24.2% were somewhat satisfied). This compares to only 34.9% of the low and moderate
income households who were dissatisfied with the results when represented by an attorney. (9.3% were somewhat
dissatisfied and 25.6% very dissatisfied.)


   Figure 28: Satisfaction—Assisted by Attorney

                                Very Dissatisfied                                 Very Satisfied
                                      25.6%                                       40.9%




                 Somewhat Dissatisfied
                               9.3%



                             Somewhat Satisfied
                                       24.2%


Unrepresented Litigants Create a Number of
Problems for the Efficient Operation of the Courts
In addition, unrepresented litigants are perceived
by court personnel to create a number of problems        When asked to identify the principal obstacles to smooth
for the efficient operation of the court system.         court operations created by unrepresented litigants,
When asked to identify the principal obstacles to        court personnel identified “lack of understanding of the
smooth court operations, 95.5% of court personnel        court system,” “pro se expectations for assistance,” and
identified “lack of understanding of the court           “lack of pro bono or low cost services.
system” as either “a very serious obstacle” or
“somewhat of an obstacle.” See Figure 29. Another
90.7% named “pro se expectations for assistance,” and 88.7%, “lack of pro bono or low cost services.”
                                                                                                                        32




                          “Very Serious Obstacle” or
                         “ Somewhat of an Obstacle”




                     0%
                            20%
                                  40%
                                        60%
                                              80%
                                                    100%



Lack of Understanding
      of Court System




   Pro Se Expectation
        for Assistance
                                                           Figure 29: Obstacles to Smooth Court Operation




  Lack of Pro Bono or
   Low Cost Services




            Language




      Lack of Judicial
   Staff And Services
                                                                                                            Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia




    Lack of Attorneys
                                            Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                                                                                33




What barriers to access to the justice system were
identified in the survey?
 Several components of the study sought information about the barriers that low and moderate income households
 encounter in gaining access to the justice system. Court personnel, who encounter “self-represented” litigants on a
 daily basis, were asked to identify these barriers and to rate the seriousness of each. See Figure 30. The most serious
 obstacles reported were that pro se litigants lack sufficient substantive legal knowledge and do not understand of the
 procedures of the courts. Over ninety percent of court personnel identified these as barriers, and nearly two thirds
 considered these obstacles as serious.


          Figure 30: Access Barriers Identified by Court Personnel


                             100%
                              90%
   “Somewhat of a Barrier”




                              80%
     “Serious Barrier” or




                              70%
                              60%
                              50%
                              40%
                              30%
                              20%
                              10%
                               0%
                                     Lack of Legal
                                    Understanding


                                                     Lack of Knowledge
                                                          of Procedures

                                                                            Lack of Knowledge of
                                                                          Resources like Legal Aid

                                                                                                     Lack of Knowledge of
                                                                                                        How to Get Forms

                                                                                                                              Insufficient Court
                                                                                                                            Personnel to Assist


                                                                                                                                                   Language Problems


                                                                                                                                                                                   Lack of
                                                                                                                                                                       Available Attorneys


                                                                                                                                                                                             Lack of Staff to Assist


                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Lack of Transportation and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Access to Courthouse


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lack of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Knowledgeable Attorneys




    Providers of legal and social services were also asked about the barriers to access experienced by their clients.
 However, providers were not asked about barriers directly connected to the justice system, but about obstacles that
 derive from the nature of poverty (or near-poverty) itself. The most serious obstacles reported were difficulties with
 finances and credit, housing, and job loss. Other important obstacles concerned transportation, health issues,
 education and literacy, and job training. See Figure 31.
34                                                                   Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia




            Figure 31: Obstacles to Clients Responding to Legal Needs (Provider Survey)


                                                                                              (According to Providers Surveyed)
                                100%
     “Somewhat an Obstacle”




                                      80%
        “Very Serious” or




                                      60%

                                      40%

                                      20%

                                            0%
                                                    Transportation



                                                                          Housing Issues



                                                                                                 Finances/
                                                                                              Credit Issues

                                                                                                                   Education/
                                                                                                              Literacy Issues


                                                                                                                                   Health Issues



                                                                                                                                                   Loss of Job



                                                                                                                                                                 Job Training



                                                                                                                                                                                              Food/
                                                                                                                                                                                    Clothing Issues


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Language Barriers



                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Citizenship Status
     The RDD survey of low and moderate income households also provided significant insights into barriers to access
 to the legal system. A key obstacle, also noted by court personnel, is the low level of awareness among Georgia
 households of those resources that are available to help with resolution of legal problems. Less than 20 percent of
 respondents were aware of mediation services, and nearly half did not know about a legal services program or
 attorney referral service. There was a higher awareness of the availability of small claims courts, but more than a
 third of respondents did not know about that resource. See Figure 32.


             Figure 32: Knowledge of Legal Resources (RDD Survey)

                                                  100%
                     Not Know of Legal Resource




                                                                                                                                            82.1%
                     % of Respondents Who Did




                                                  80%

                                                  60%
                                                                                           47.4%
                                                                                                                                                                                    35.9%
                                                  40%

                                                  20%

                                                   0%
                                                                          Legal Services or                                     Mediation Services                              Small Claims Court
                                                                          Referral Sources
                       Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                  35




                          “Faye” said she bought a two year old 1999 Saturn and was making payments for six or
                          seven years. She then got behind and interest was added to her monthly payments. “It just
                          got out of hand.” In the last year, she lost her job making “really good money” working for a
                          real estate attorney. She took a deep pay cut with the job she was able to find. Faye could
                          no longer pay her car payments plus the interest. It got to the point that “they” were calling
                          her six or seven times a day at her job and harassing her. They were threatening to get the
                          car. Faye said she had become a “basket case.” She could not stand the thought of her wages
                          being garnished because she could hardly make ends meet as it was. She called a friend who
                          is a legal assistant for an attorney. The friend recommended that Faye call the Consumer
                          Credit Counseling Service. Faye called them and they helped worked out a deal where they
                          negotiated down the debt so that Faye only had to pay $500. Now, she owns the car free
                          and clear. It may break down every other week but she says the car is “mine.” Faye said it
                          worked out very well for her, and glad she had this friend who worked for an attorney to
                          recommend this course of action. She said the end result was “awesome…and very
                          satisfied with the outcome.” Yet, Faye said she probably would not have used an attorney
                          because feels she cannot afford one.



   A further obstacle to finding and securing legal assistance is related to being insufficiently connected to legal
resources through family, social or services networks. Figure 33 illustrates how the few households that secured
representation were able to do so. Almost two thirds of those households who were able to successfully connect with
an attorney did so through word of mouth from friends, relatives or co-workers (41%), referral from a legal aid office
or clinic (12%) or referral from a government, community or charitable organization (12%). It appears that being
connected to these networks is a determinant of being able to obtain legal help.


   Figure 33: How did Household Find a Lawyer
                                      Other
                                     20%
                                                                                      Word of Mouth – Friends,
                                                                                      Relatives, Coworkers, etc.
           Television or Newspaper
                      Advertisement                                                   41%
                                3%

        Phone Book or Internet Listing
                               12%

         Referral from Community Organization,
     Government Agency,Charitable Organization                     Referral from Legal Aid Organization or Clinic
                                           12%                     12%
36                     Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia


     One promising means of access to the courts that has been expanding rapidly around the country is the use of
 technology in the form of self help materials posted on court or attorney websites. RDD respondents were asked
 about their access to technology and their ability
 to use it. While some courts and other entities
 are developing online resources aimed at liti-        While some courts and other entities are developing online
 gants, these resources are not being used by          resources aimed at litigants, these resources are not being
 most low and moderate income Georgia house-           used by most low and moderate income Georgia households.
 holds. Although over two thirds (66.1%) of            Although over two thirds (66.1%) of households participating
 households participating in the survey reported       in the survey reported that they had access to the Internet,
 that they had access to the Internet, over 94%        over 94% of those households reported that they had not
 of those households reported that they had not        used those resource to access legal forms.
 used those resource to access legal forms.
 See Figure 34.



     Figure 34: Ability to Use the Internet (RDD Households)

                         Successfully Accessed
                                  Legal Forms
                                       5.7%


                                                                                    No Access to Internet
                                                                                    33.9%




              Access to Internet but
       Never Used It for Legal Forms
                          60.4%
                                                               Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  37




How are attorneys and legal service providers responding?
 Legal Services Providers
 Data from the survey of providers offers information on the barriers faced by these organizations themselves. When
 asked about what problems legal services programs faced in overcoming barriers to the justice system, the four most
 significant factors identified were “caseload/time constraints” (87.1%); “lack of budgetary resources” (88.6%); “lack
 of available attorneys” (81.4%) and “lack of staff/personnel” (81.5%). See Figure 35. Each of these factors amounts
 to a lack of sufficient resources to meet the demand for services.


          Figure 35: Barriers Experienced by Providers in Meeting Legal Needs

                            100%
   Somewhat of a Barrier”
    “Serious Barriers” or




                            80%

                            60%

                            40%

                            20%

                             0%
                                   Caseload Time Constraints



                                                                     Lack of Budgetary Resources



                                                                                                   Lack of Staff Personnel


                                                                                                                             Communication Issues
                                                                                                                                      (Language)


                                                                                                                                                    Lack of Follow-Through
                                                                                                                                                         by other Agencies


                                                                                                                                                                             Lack of Clients understanding



                                                                                                                                                                                                             Lack of Client Understanding
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      of Pro Bono System


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lack of Access to Other Community
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Agencies (Lack of Interagency Networks)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Lack of Information on How to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Reach Clients after They Leave Our Offices


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Lack of Access to Client Base
                                                                                                                                                                                      of Pro Bono System




 The Private Bar
 Regardless of any enhancements in services that might be achieved in the legal services system, a key role in meeting
 unmet legal needs for low and moderate income Georgians will have to be played by the private bar. This is true not
 only because of the need to augment free public legal services for the poor with a significant pro bono contribution,
 but also because most moderate income households are not even eligible for representation by federally funded
 legal services programs. Legal services programs generally do not represent anyone who is not low income, as
      38                        Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



        defined by the study. In addition, Georgia’s attorneys are unevenly distributed around the state. According to 2008
        statistics from the State Bar of Georgia Membership Department, approximately 70% of the active lawyers in Georgia
        live in the five-county metropolitan Atlanta area (which has only 28% of the state’s poverty population), and the
        other 30% live in the remaining 154 counties of the state (which has 72% of the state’s poverty population). Moderate
        income households have comparable legal needs to those of low income. Thus, for thousands of moderate income
        persons in Georgia the only possible legal help will come from private attorneys.
            For all of these reasons, the study inquired into the nature of the private bar’s involvement in representing persons
        of limited means or organizations serving the poor. In particular, the study examined who is providing pro bono and
        low cost services, why attorneys become involved, what factors cause attorneys not to contribute and what could be
        done to further enhance the delivery of pro bono and low cost legal services.


       Who is providing pro bono or low cost services?
        The study gathered information about the firm size of the attor-
        neys who participated in the study which is shown in Figure 36.             40.4% of the attorneys surveyed reported
        Overall, 40.4% of the attorneys surveyed did pro bono work.                 to have engaged in pro bono work.
        This figure cannot be generalized to all Georgia attorneys, due
        to the methodology of choosing the attorney sample.21 However,
        it is interesting that a higher proportion of attorneys from small firms (49.5%) and solo practitioners (47.7%) reported
        being engaged in pro bono, while the largest firms reported a much lower participation rate (27.1%).


              Figure 36: Attorneys in Survey Doing Pro Bono by Firm Size

                    47.7%         49.5%
                                                     32.3%             41.2%                                 40.4%
                                                                                          27.1%



                         Sole        2 to 5            6 to 15           16 to 25        More than 25       All Attorneys


            Part of this difference may be explained by the data represented in Figure 37, showing the mean number of pro
        bono hours reported by those attorneys who engaged in pro bono representation. Although a smaller percentage of
        attorneys in the largest firms are engaged in pro bono, those who do provide this service contribute more hours per
        year – over twice the number of hours reported by sole practitioners. These data suggest that pro bono representation
        in the largest firms may be specialized among a few lawyers in the firm.
           While participating large firm attorneys provide more hours of pro bono services, smaller firms are more likely to
        provide services for a reduced fee. A lower percentage of attorneys in mid-sized firms reported participating in pro
        bono representation than did small firms, and mid-sized firm attorneys who do participate reported contributing
        fewer hours per year than attorneys in either smaller firms or the largest firms.

21
     See Methodology Section.
                                     Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                           39




        Figure 37: Mean Hours of Pro Bono and Reduced Fee Service by Firm Size

                                                                    Free        Charitable Organization         Reduced Fee
                        300

                        250
 those Doing Pro Bono




                                                                                                                       195.7
    Mean Hours of




                        200

                        150
                                                                                                                73.9
                        100
                                                                                                                   71.6
                        50

                         0
                                   Sole               2 to 5     6 to 15        16 to 25      More than 25     All Attorneys
                                                                                                             (Doing pro bono)


   The study also gathered information
                                                               When asked how they found their pro bono cases, only about one
about how attorneys who do engage in
                                                               quarter of attorneys offering pro bono representation did so
pro bono representation found the cases.
                                                               pursuant to a formal plan for referral, such as legal services’
Figure 38 reveals that only about one
                                                               programs (15.7%), a bar referral panel (5.4%) or their law firm
quarter of attorneys offering pro bono
                                                               (6.9%). The balance of cases reached the attorney through family
representation did so pursuant to a
                                                               and friends (27.0%), church (5.9%) or some other means (39.2%).
formal plan for referral, such as legal



        Figure 38: Source of Pro Bono Referral
                                              Other Means                             Legal Services
                                                 20.6%                                15.7%
                                                                                                Bar Assistance or
                                                                                                Independent Referral Panel

                              Religious Institution                                             5.4%
                                          5.9%                                                  Employer/Firm
                                                                                                6.9%
            Through Family and Friends
          Who Referred You to 3rd Party
                                          11.3%
                                                                                           Random Call

                                      Family and Friends to                                18.6%
                                Whom You Provided Services
                                                      15.7%
40                                                   Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



 services’ programs (15.7%), a bar referral panel (5.4%) or their law firm (6.9%). The balance of cases reached the
 attorney through family and friends (27.0%), church (5.9%) or some other means (39.2%).


 Why do Georgia attorneys offer pro bono representation?
 Attorneys who engaged in pro bono representation were asked why they did so. The reason most frequently cited
 was a sense of professional responsibility, reported as an important motivation by 93.7% of respondents, and as “very
 important” by more than two thirds. Also reported as important were knowledge of the needs of low and moderate
 income clients (cited as a motivating factor by 84.2%, cited as “very important” by 51.9%), a request by the court
 (50.6%, 40.5%), and faith based motivation (47.5%, 27.2%). Skill enhancement, the opportunity to gain exposure,
 prior pro bono involvement, networking, employer requirement, satisfaction of CLE requirements and recognition
 were much less significant to most pro bono participants. See Figure 39.


               Figure 39: Motivation for Pro Bono Work

                             100%
     “Somewhat Important”
       “Very Important” or




                             80%

                             60%

                             40%

                             20%

                              0%
                                     Professional
                                    Responsibility

                                                      Knowledge of Needs



                                                                           Court Request



                                                                                           Faith Based



                                                                                                         Enhanced Skills



                                                                                                                           Exposure



                                                                                                                                      Prior Pro Bono



                                                                                                                                                       Networking


                                                                                                                                                                    Directive from
                                                                                                                                                                    Employer Firm


                                                                                                                                                                                     CLE Requirement



                                                                                                                                                                                                       Recognition

 What are the barriers to doing pro bono?
 Study participants who did not report that they engage in pro         When non-pro bono attorneys were asked
 bono services [hereinafter “non-pro bono attorneys”]were asked        about the barriers they perceived to their
 about the barriers they perceived to their participation. See         participation, the busy professional and
 Figure 40. The busy professional and family lives of many             family lives of many members of the bar
 members of the bar were reflected in the identification of “lack      were reflected in the identification of
 of time,” “family obligations” or “small firm economics.” “Lack       “lack of time,” “family obligations” or
 of skills or experience in practice area” was identified by two       “small firm economics.”
 thirds of non-pro bono attorneys as being “very important” or
 “somewhat important.” The “screening/referral process” was identified as very or somewhat important by 45.6%,
                                                            Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                                                                                                                                                    41




and “lack of administrative support or resources” was identified by 43.7%. “Lack of malpractice insurance” was
identified by 39.1% of non-pro bono attorneys as an obstacle to participation.


       Figure 40: Discouraging Factors Reported

                          100%
  “Somewhat Important”
    “Very Important” or




                            80%

                            60%

                            40%

                            20%

                               0%
                                                                                                                 Lack of Skills
                                                                                                                or Experience
                                                                                                              in Practice Area
                                                  Lack of Time



                                                                                    Family Obligations




                                                                                                                                              Small Firm
                                                                                                                                              Economics


                                                                                                                                                                      Screening/
                                                                                                                                                                 Referral Process


                                                                                                                                                                                           Lack of Administrative
                                                                                                                                                                                           Support or Resources


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Lack of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Malpractice Insurance


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Lack of Interest
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                in Pro Bono



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                by Employer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Discouraged
   Another major reason attorneys may not be participating in pro bono work is the disparity between the substantive
expertise of most private attorneys and the legal needs of low and moderate income households. Figure 41 displays


       Figure 41: Most Common Area of Practice of Attorney Respondents


        24.1%
                                   17.4%
                                                                 14.5%
                                                                      12.6%
                                                                           10.2%
                                                                                                                                                  4.8% 2.7% 2.4% 2.1% 1.6% 1.6%
                                    Real Estate



                                                                  Personal Injury



                                                                                                         Family



                                                                                                                             Estate/Probate




                                                                                                                                                                            Civil Rights




                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Immigration



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Elder Law



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Public Benefits
                       Business/
                 Corporate/Taxes




                                                                                                                                                    Consumer/
                                                                                                                                                    Bankruptcy




                                                                                                                                                                                                        Housing/
                                                                                                                                                                                                 Landlord Tenant
42                                             Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia



 the most common areas of practice of all attorneys who completed the survey. Sixty percent of those respondents
 most commonly practiced in three areas: business/corporate/tax (24.2%), real estate (17.4%) and personal injury
 (14.5%). None of these areas were identified in the RDD study as being particularly relevant to the most serious legal
 needs of low and moderate income families. By contrast, the number of attorneys who commonly practiced in areas
 more in demand, such as housing/landlord tenant law (2.4%), public benefits (1.6%), civil rights (2.7%) and elder
 law (1.6%), is quite small. This disparity of expertise to client need probably accounts for much of the reluctance of
 some private attorneys to take pro bono cases.
     The respondents to the attorney survey were also asked to identify particular areas of substantive law that they
 would specifically decline to accept for representation. See Figure 42. Three areas emerged as particularly relevant
 to this study. Family law, a key legal need for low and moderate income families, is specifically avoided by 22.1% of
 the survey sample. Although not as dramatic, consumer law is avoided by 6.3% of respondents. 16.1% of respondents
 reported not accepting any cases that were outside of their area of specialization. Since so many private attorneys, as
 noted above, specialize in areas of law that are not in great demand for low and moderate income clients, this pattern
 also eliminates many attorneys from accepting pro bono cases.


            Figure 42: Areas of Practice Attorneys Decline to Accept for Pro Bono Representation
                               25
                                    22.1
     Do Not Practice in Area




                               20
       % of Lawyers Who




                                              16.1
                               15

                               10
                                                                                             6.3
                                5

                                0
                                     Family


                                              All Other Areas aside
                                                     from Specialty

                                                                      Business, Corporate,
                                                                                    Taxes


                                                                                             Consumer/Bankruptcy


                                                                                                                   Real Estate


                                                                                                                                 Personal Injury


                                                                                                                                                   Estate/Probate



                                                                                                                                                                       Immigration


                                                                                                                                                                                     Civil Rights

                                                                                                                                                                                                           Housing,
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Landlord/Tenant


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Elder


                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Public Benefits




    When asked why they refused to accept a certain category of
 substantive law, respondents particularly focused on lack of                                                                                                       When asked why they refused to accept
 expertise. About 80% of all attorneys surveyed in the survey                                                                                                       a certain category of substantive law,
 reported this with respect to not taking consumer cases, about                                                                                                     attorneys surveyed particularly focused
 60% noted lack of expertise as a reason for not taking family                                                                                                      on lack of expertise.
 cases, and 50% said this was the reason that they refused to
 handle any matters outside of their chief area of expertise.
                                                      Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia            43




Related factors of “no peers to consult” and “frequent change of law” were also given as significant reasons for
declining consumer cases, family law cases, and any cases outside of specialty. Some lawyers find family law cases
to be particularly stressful, with 36.3% giving “stress or burn out” as the reason for not accepting those cases.


What could encourage more lawyers to offer pro bono services?

Training and Mentoring
Data from attorneys who did not engage in pro bono work indicate that making training and mentoring opportuni-
ties available, especially when dealing with unfamiliar areas of law, may motivate more attorneys to accept pro
bono cases. Almost 40% of the attorneys in the survey who were limiting their practice responded that they would
accept cases outside of their comfort zone if training were available. About 10% more said that they might do so,
depending on circumstances. See Figure 43. 51.6% of attorneys in very large firms saying they would be willing to
handle other areas of law if training were available, and another 9.7% indicated that they would consider doing so,
depending on the circumstances.



   Figure 43: Effect of Training on Willingness to Accept Other Areas of Law
       if Traing Available – “Yes” or “Maybe”
        Willing to Handle Other Areas of Law




                                                70%

                                                60%

                                                50%

                                                40%

                                                30%

                                                20%

                                                10%

                                                0%
                                                            Sole         2 to 5       6 to 15      16 to 25    More than 25   All




   The responses given by non-pro bono attorneys regarding what factors might encourage them to participate are
similar. Assistance from co-counsel or mentor was reported to be important by 81.0%, free practice resources by
78.6%, and free training by 63.3%. See Figure 44. As illustrated in Figure 40, “lack of skills or experience in practice
area,” was identified by two thirds of non-pro bono attorneys as being “very important” or “somewhat important” in
discouraging them from providing free services.
44                                                      Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia




     Figure 44: What Would Encourage Participation in Pro Bono?

                             100%
     “Somewhat Important”
       “Very Important” or




                             80%

                             60%

                             40%

                             20%

                              0%
                                    Help by Co-counselor Mentor


                                                                  Free Practice Resources


                                                                                            Free Malpractice Insurance


                                                                                                                         Request by Colleague


                                                                                                                                                Wider Range of Opportunity


                                                                                                                                                                             Free Training

                                                                                                                                                                                                     Reliable Pre-
                                                                                                                                                                                             Screening of Eligibility

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Training Would Meet
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          CLE Requirements

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Court Scheduling
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Preference for Pro Bono

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Opportunity to Work
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          on Discrete Task

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Judicial Encouragement


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Employer Recognition


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Community Recognition
 Free Malpractice Insurance
 Free malpractice insurance would be “very important” or “somewhat important” in encouraging 77.2% of non-pro
 bono attorneys to participate. See Figure 44. For 39.1% of non-pro bono attorneys, the failure to provide some form
 of group malpractice insurance for pro bono practitioners is an obstacle to participation. See Figure 40.


 Referral Process/Lack of Administrative Support
  “Screening/referral process” and “lack of administrative support or resources,” are identified by non-pro bono
 attorneys as very or somewhat important discouraging factors by 45.6% and 43.7%, respectively. 62.3% of non-pro
 bono attorneys thought it would be very or somewhat important to have reliable screening of referrals. 67.0%
 expressed a desire for a wider range of opportunities and 69.8% said a request from a colleague was important.


 Discrete Tasks
 “The opportunity to work on a discrete task” would be some-                                                                                                                                                                      “The opportunity to work on a discrete
 what or very important in encouraging 59.6% of non-pro bono                                                                                                                                                                      task” would be somewhat or very important
 attorneys to engage in pro bono work. This response corresponds                                                                                                                                                                  in encouraging 59.6% of non-pro bono
 to the factors of time pressures and family obligations as obsta-                                                                                                                                                                attorneys to engage in pro bono work.
 cles to not engaging in pro bono activities.
                         Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia                            45




Conclusion
 The 2007/2008 Georgia Legal Needs Study presented in-depth findings of the types and number of problems with
 legal dimensions experienced by low and moderate income Georgia households and what steps they take to
 address those needs. Further, the study examined the role played by the justice system, including the courts, private
 attorneys, and legal service providers, in responding to these needs. This study is the first step in achieving the vision
 of equal access to civil justice for all citizens of the State of Georgia.
46   Civil Legal Needs of Low and Moderate Income Households in Georgia
              Supreme Court of Georgia
Equal Justice Commission – Committee on Civil Justice
       244 Washington Street, SW | Suite 300
              Atlanta, GA 30334-5900

            www.gaccj.org

								
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