Legal Reforms

There are lies, damned lies and, in "Help the Poor, but Don't Fund Legal Services" (Column Right, by Kenneth Boehm and Peter Flaherty, Sept. 19), willful ignorance of statistics.

* "Private legal aid societies . . . would be thriving today had the lure of federal money not made many of them dependent on Legal Services funds." In 1964, the last year before the federal government began funding legal services, national legal aid expenditures were less than $5 million; at the end of the Carter Administration they were $320 million.

* Judicare "gives poor people more options than the Legal Services 'staff attorney' system." Every study has found that private lawyers are more expensive and less effective than dedicated staff attorneys, who work long hours for salaries no private lawyer would accept.

* "Lawyers have historically had a professional obligation to provide a certain amount of legal help 'pro bono,' for no or a reduced fee." Every survey has found that lawyers devote an insignificant amount of time to pro bono, most of which does not benefit the poor.

* "Everyone would benefit from tort reform that lowers the cost and prevalence of litigation." What Republicans tout as "tort reform" would make remedies less accessible and less adequate for all; the only ones to benefit would be tort-feasors and their insurers.

RICHARD L. ABEL

Connell Professor of Law

UCLA Law School

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