Budget cuts impact Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Less funding for legal aid services from state government and non-profit organizations is expected to drastically affect the work these organizations do for the disadvantaged, attorneys have warned.

"If it's not us there's really no one else to help these individuals," said Robert Bertisch, executive director, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County.

Bertisch said steep cuts from the State of Florida -- $2 million for legal aid societies statewide -- and a projected $200,000 cut from the Florida Bar Foundation -- for the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County -- were expected to have a significant impact in Palm Beach County.

The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, established in the 1940s, has offered help to a wide range of people, from foster children to victims of domestic violence to families at risk of foreclosure.

Annually, it provides help to approximately 7,000 people.

Bertisch said the cuts would mean about half of the people it helps not will be able to receive help in the future.

"There is an up-need -- especially in the areas of domestic violence and foreclosure defense," he said. "It will mean that less people will be served and would also mean that we would have to reduce the size of our staff significantly ."

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