Our History of Advocacy

The EJC was established in 1995 to serve as a strong voice to advocate for adequate funding of federal and state civil legal aid programs. We’re a non-partisan grassroots organization and serve as a standing committee of the Washington State Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Board.

We work at the statewide and national levels to ensure low-income people access legal help and representation. Members are kept up to date on important legal aid issues through Action Alerts and our blog, which spotlights the impact work of our partner organizations and champions for legal aid.

Protect Vital Funding for Legal Aid

The effectiveness of the EJC is based highly on member participation. Join us today, it is entirely cost-free and you’ll help improve the lives of low-income people who do not have access to an attorney, help families keep their homes from foreclosure, and protect survivors of domestic violence.

Members are kept up to date on the important issues through Action Alerts and through our blog, which features the work of Washington’s legal aid network, known as the Alliance for Equal Justice.

We will ask you to contact your representative when civil legal aid funding is in jeopardy and will send you all the background information with a message you can send your elected officials.

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Programs supported by King County funding:

  • Solid Ground’s Family Assistance Program
  • Eastside Legal Assistance Program
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  • Seattle Community Law Center
  • TeamChild
  • Unemployment Law Project

2013 Metropolitan King County Council Budget Recap

In 2012, our goal was to have funding restored to pre-recession levels. Between 2007 and 2011, King County’s investment in legal aid was reduced by a near cumulative $160,000. We faced multiple challenges: (1) The Executive’s budget included only four of the five programs supported in fiscal year 2012; and (2) we were looking to expand King County’s support to include Seattle Community Law Center, an Alliance member working to secure federal benefits for people with disabilities who are homeless or low-income in King County. We attended and testified as a group during community hearings on the proposed budget and met with Councilmembers (and their staff) to discuss the collaborative delivery system the legal aid programs promotes and to ensure the needs of low-income people are met in a timely and effective manner. We received help from various supporters from legal aid programs, the private bar, and our members. The King County Council did more than champion our ask: they passed a budget that restored funding to pre-recession levels to Eastside Legal Assistance Program, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, TeamChild, Family Assistance Program at Solid Ground, and Unemployment Law Project; added Seattle Community Law Center as a beneficiary; and secured additional funding for ELAP to provide a Domestic Violence Attorney at the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN). Legal aid funding from the King County budget increased from $302,000 to $513,991. We are grateful for the outpouring of support from our grassroots members and the Council’s understanding of the impact legal aid can have on individuals, families and communities county-wide.

2014 Metropolitan King County Council Budget Recap

For fiscal year 2014, we secured a continuation of levels seen in the county’s fiscal year 2013 budget, which included a sizable increase in investment to legal aid programs serving King County’s most vulnerable people.

2013 Legislative Session Recap: 2013-2015 Biennium Budget

Early in the 2013 session, the Senate Ways & Means Committee proposed a $5.4 million cut to the State Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA). Thankfully, Senators Linda Evans Parlette (R-Wenatchee) and Ed Murray (D-Seattle) co-sponsored a last minute, bipartisan amendment to restore $2 million of the $5.4 million cut to OCLA, which passed committee and was adopted as part of the Senate-proposed budget. And our Coalition did not stop there. We, after months of hard work, were able to erase these cuts completely. At a time when budgets were slashed for many entities, this result is a huge relief. Without the help of our members, their calls and emails to legislators, none of our work could have been possible. This positive result is a great example of what we’re capable of accomplishing as a coalition. Your voice, commitment, and willingness to contact your legislators about the importance of legal aid to low-income communities and the administration of justice is what drove our success into reality.

Established in 1974, the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) promotes equal access to justice by providing federal funding grants to 134 nonprofit legal aid programs across the United States; Northwest Justice Project is Washington State’s sole LSC grantee.

Federal funding has dropped significantly over the years. In 2010, LSC funding peaked to $420 million, which provided NJP with a $6.8 million grant. In 2011, LSC funding fell to $404 million, and in 2012, Congress reduced its funding by 17% to $348 million. This reduction meant $964,000 less in funding to NJP.