New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says the state needs a dedicated stream of money to help fill "the catastrophic lack'' of legal services for the poor, despite recent judicial efforts and volunteer work by lawyers that have helped.
He says millions of New Yorkers face essential matters like child custody, keeping their homes, access to health care, public benefits and immigration status in civil proceedings without lawyers.
He notes at a hearing Thursday in Albany that federal funding has dropped sharply and state funding is fragmented.
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who has held similar hearings the past two years, plans to present findings to state lawmakers.
He says that at best, pro bono work, grants and legal aid services are now meeting 20 percent of the chronic need.