Copyright © 2015 by the Institute for Policy Integrity.

This report, however, will focus on assessing the economic benefits of providing civil legal assistance to domestic violence victims by examining the underlying transaction between an attorney and her client. What are the social costs when a victim of domestic abuse cannot afford legal assistance and lacks access to free or subsidized assistance? Might greater subsidies for civil legal assistance be cost-benefit justified?


The evidence suggests that civil legal assistance might indeed be cost-benefit justified. Civil legal services  improve the likelihood that women will be able to obtain protective orders from courts, which is a significant factor in reducing rates of domestic violence. In fact, studies have shown that the availability of civil legal aid  can be effective in reducing rates of violence, and even more effective than alternative interventions such as the provision of shelters or counseling services.4 Increased funding to enhance the availability of civil legal services to low-income families can lower the societal costs of domestic violence, generating substantial economic benefits