Mind the Justice Gap?
The NYT alerts us that drops in federal interest rates are dwindling already-scarce IOLTA funds, which are used to provide funding for legal aid. (Check out this info on Civil Gideon for more about how IOLTA works). Needless to say, tort "reformers" aren't too upset about this. Nor were they upset when our failing economy dealt its blow to the civil court system. I can comfortably say that tort "reformers" will take advantage of the financial crisis to a) argue that civil justice reforms are too expensive right now and b) argue that tort "reform" will help the economy.
In fact, a proper economic stimulus plan must contemplate how the economy has affected the legal needs of the poor and include measures to address this. Financial stressors have both pushed people into some legal battles and rendered them unable to defend themselves properly. A proper stimulus plan will prioritize meeting these important needs to prevent additional costs that result from improperly resolved legal claims, and to provide a stronger security net to ordinary people.
Hat tip to the WSJ law blog.