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The Legal Services Corp., the independent nonprofit corporation that provides civil legal aid to the poor, would receive $348 million for its fiscal 2012 budget under a deal House and Senate members released Nov. 15. The sum is halfway between the $396 million set aside for the Legal Services Corp. in spending legislation the Democratic-controlled Senate passed Nov. 1 and the $300 million for the agency in the appropriations bill the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee approved July 13. The House is slated to vote on the compromise this week. The agency is currently running under a $398 million budget Congress approved in a temporary appropriations measure for fiscal 2012. That amount is $6 million less than it got in fiscal 2011 and about $22 million less than it collected in fiscal 2010. The Legal Services Corp. last received a $348 million budget in 2007. The agency urged Congress to give it $517 million for fiscal 2012. John Levi, chairman of the LSC’s board of directors, said in a statement that the 2012 funding deal was a “compromise” that will lead to further staff cuts. “At a time when an increasing number of Americans are seeking civil legal assistance for domestic abuse, for foreclosure, for bankruptcy, when veterans are requesting help with their legal rights, and when others face critical matters, this funding compromise will lead to staff cuts and reduced services at LSC programs, limiting the number of people who have access to justice,” Levi said. “Federal funding is the cornerstone for access to justice in this nation, and it is essential that we and the Congress work to restore and enhance funding to LSC.”   The Legal Services Corp. doles out more money for civil legal aid than any other U.S. organization. The funds go to 136 civil legal aid groups across the country. Many of the clients of the organizations are individuals facing eviction or victims of domestic abuse. In 2010, the groups had 9,059 employees, including 4,351 lawyers. But they shed 445 staffers – including more than 200 lawyers – during the first half of 2011. Contact Andrew Ramonas at [email protected].

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