President Biden Signs Presidential Memorandum to Expand Access to Legal Representation and the Courts

May 24, 2021

May 18, 2021 • White House Statement

Today, President Biden will sign a Presidential Memorandum to expand access to legal representation and the courts.  As President Biden knows from his experience as a public defender, timely and affordable access to the legal system can make all the difference in a person’s life—including by keeping an individual out of poverty, keeping an individual in his or her home, helping an unaccompanied child seek asylum, helping someone fight a consumer scam, or ensuring that an individual charged with a crime can mount a strong defense and receive a fair trial.  But low-income people have long struggled to secure quality access to the legal system.  Those challenges have only increased during the public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, civil legal aid providers and public defenders have been under-resourced, understaffed, and unable to reach some of the people in greatest need of their services. 

The federal government has a critical role to play in expanding access to the nation’s legal system and supporting the work of civil legal aid providers and public defenders.  President Biden’s executive action today will reinvigorate the federal government’s role in advancing access to justice, and help ensure that the Administration’s policies and recovery efforts can reach as many individuals as possible.

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