Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense

The Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID) has jurisdiction over matters related to the creation, maintenance, and enhancement of effective civil legal aid and criminal indigent defense delivery systems and services, including by: (a) advocating for meaningful access to the justice system for all; (b) supporting viable and effective plans to increase funding for legal aid and indigent defense delivery systems and services; and (c) developing standards and policy, disseminating best practices, and providing training and technical assistance.

National Meeting of State Access to Justice Commission Chairs

2021 Virtual ATJ Chairs Meeting

The 2021 National Meeting of State Access to Justice Commission Chairs (“ATJ Chairs Meeting”) will take place virtually on December 2-3, 2021, including CLE sessions. Check back here for registration and program agenda, coming soon!

The Indiana Project: An Analysis of the Indiana Public Defense System And Attorney Workload Standards (2020)

The Indiana Public Defender Commission (“Commission”) separately engaged the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (“ABA SCLAID”) and Crowe LLP (“Crowe”) to collaboratively conduct the Indiana Project, an analysis of public defense.

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Use of the Delphi Method in ABA SCLAID Public Defense Workload Studies: A Report on Lessons Learned - By Stephen F. Hanlon, Malia Brink & Norman Lefstein.

Together with data and system analysis experts, ABA SCLAID has conducted public defender workload studies in Missouri, Louisiana, Colorado, Rhode Island and Indiana. This new report details ABA SCLAID’s use of the Delphi Method to establish jurisdiction-specific public defense workload standards and details lessons learned while conducting these studies.

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COVID-19 Resources

The ABA Task Force on Legal Needs Arising from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic consolidates resources from across the country to assist the access to justice community in addressing the many challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Be a Part of SCLAID's Future

Throughout its 100 years of existence, SCLAID’s work would not have been possible without ABA membership dues. Today's public interest lawyers of all practice backgrounds are able to join the ABA for significantly reduced dues rates of as little as $75 per year. These dues are critical to supporting not just the work of SCLAID, but also that of many other ABA public interest entities. Plus, membership provides a wide array of benefits tailored to the needs of our public interest practitioners. Join the ABA and support both our and your future!

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Public Defense

The Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID) is working to improve public defense systems nationwide.

Access to Justice Commissions

Access to Justice Commissions are collaborative entities that bring together courts, the bar, civil legal aid providers, and other stakeholders in an effort to remove barriers to civil justice for low-income and disadvantaged people.

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Legal Aid Funding Report

Financial resource limitations remain one of the largest barriers preventing civil legal aid providers, even with their pro bono allies, from addressing the needs of low-income client communities. The ABArray Legal Aid Funding Report provides users with online access to SCLAID's national legal aid funding data collection from 2003 to present.

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Civil Right to Counsel

Access state research reports detailing existing authority for appointment of counsel in various types of civil proceedings.

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Language Access

The Standards and extensive commentary provide guidance to courts in designing, implementing, and enforcing a comprehensive system of language access services that is suited to the needs in the communities they serve.

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Help us improve access to justice by donating to the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid & Indigent Defense (SCLAID).


The Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense (SCLAID) serves the American Bar Association by examining issues relating to the delivery of civil legal assistance and of criminal defense services to the poor. It maintains close relationships with state and local bar and legal aid/defender leaders, providing information and developing policy on civil legal aid and indigent defense. The Committee also works closely with leaders of the states’ judiciary and national judicial leaders in forging improvements in access to justice. It advocates for and works to ensure the availability of legal aid and defender services for indigent persons through a variety of activities and projects. SCLAID is the ABA’s oldest standing committee; established in 1920 under the leadership of Charles Evans Hughes. The Committee has adopted a strategic plan articulating four goals: (1) secure sufficient resources/funding in each jurisdiction to support quality legal services for persons of limited means; (2) develop and promote standards, policies, best practices and models, to support the delivery of quality legal service to persons of limited means; (3) advocate for effective systems; and (4) educate, so that policy makers, the bench, the bar and the public understand issues and requirements for legal services for persons of limited means.

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