HUNTINGTON – Legal Aid of West Virginia is using a grant awarded by Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough to hire a summer law clerk to assist children and their families with legal needs.

"We are grateful for the assistance Nelson Mullins is providing to allow us to increase the numbers of children we can serve," said Adrienne Worthy, the executive director of Legal Aid of West Virginia. "Children are among the most underrepresented in the legal system and the addition of summer law clerks can help us reach more of those in need."

The grant comes at a time when support for legal services in West Virginia is desperately needed.

"Although assisting nearly 24,000 people in 2011 sounds impressive, the truth is that demand in 2011 far exceeded that number," Worthy said.

Worthy said increasing demand for legal assistance suggests, at lease, a status quo level of funding, if not an increase to meet the rise in applications, but, instead, Legal Aid, as well as other legal service providers across the nation, received word in 2011 of a dramatic reduction in federal funding.

The reduction of funding from Congress to the Legal Services Corporations amounts to approximately $56 million of funding. The 14.8 percent funding reduction was taken from basic field grants—grants which support programs at the state level, such as Legal Aid of West Virginia.

Worthy said programs across the country are experiencing painful staff layoffs and office closures and, according to a Legal Services Corporation survey, LSC-funded programs anticipate laying off 393 employees—including 163 attorneys—in 2012.

Nelson Mullins has maintained the donor-directed foundation fund since 1997 to provide yearly assistance to organizations that serve the legal needs of low-income children.

For more information on Legal Aid, go to www.lawv.net. For more information on Nelson Mullins, go to www.nelsonmullins.com.

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