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Office of Civil Legal Aid

RCW 2.53; RCW 13.34

The Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA) is an independent judicial branch agency established by the Legislature in 2005 to administer and oversee the delivery of state-funded civil legal aid services to eligible low-income people in Washington State. OCLA contracts with a statewide “qualified legal aid program,” the Northwest Justice Project (NJP), to provide direct and sub-contracted civil legal aid services to eligible low income clients on matters falling within the areas of authorized practice set forth in RCW 2.53.030(2). OCLA is required, among other things, to ensure that state-funded legal aid services are delivered “in a manner that maximizes geographic access throughout the state.” RCW 2.53.030(3). In addition to basic civil legal aid services authorized by RCW 2.53.030, OCLA administers federal Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) funding to underwrite civil legal assistance to victims of crime throughout Washington State, pursuant to an interagency agreement with the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy in the state’s Department of Commerce. Pursuant to RCW 2.53.045 and RCW 13.34.100(6), OCLA also contracts with attorneys and defender agencies to represent children who remain in foster care and subject to dependency proceedings six months following the termination of their parents’ legal rights. OCLA provides support and oversight to ensure the provision of standards-based, culturally competent legal representation to promote and protect the stated and legal interests of these children. The Office of Civil Legal Aid is overseen by a bipartisan Civil Legal Aid Oversight Committee established and appointed pursuant to RCW 2.53.010. The Oversight Committee includes members appointed by both caucuses of the House and Senate, three representatives appointed by the Supreme Court (including a client-eligible member), two representatives appointed by the Board for Judicial Administration, a representative appointed by the Governor, and a representative appointed by the Washington State Bar Association. The Oversight Committee is chaired by Sarah Augustine, Director of the Dispute Resolution Center of Yakima and Kittitas Counties. OCLA is staffed by an agency Director, a Children’s Representation Program Manager, a Civil Legal Aid to Crime Victims Program Manager and a full-time Senior Administrative Assistant. In June 2020, OCLA added a part time temporary staff person to manage the COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Claimant Representation Program.

Agency Mission

The mission of the Office of Civil Legal Aid (OCLA) is to work within the judicial branch to promote equity and justice for low-income Washington state residents and communities through the funding and oversight of effective, economical, and responsive civil legal aid services on matters that affect basic human needs, and to ensure accountability for state-appropriated funds dedicated to this purpose. Consistent with statutory directives, OCLA works to ensure effective, standards-based representation of legally free children in dependency cases.
Request 127,983,000
Net change from current biennium 33,049,000 Increase
Percent change from current biennium 34.8% Increase

Operating Budget: Summary

Appropriated Funds

2021-23 Appropriations Appropriated Funds Expenditures
Amount Estimated Balance   2019-21 Actual 2021-23 Estimated 2023-25 Proposed
379,000 General Fund - Federal 2,300,000 379,000 1,468,000
(380,000) Foreclosure Fairness Account - Nonappropriated 380,000 380,000
92,711,000 General Fund - State 42,305,000 92,711,000 119,897,000
Disaster Response Account - State 2,921,599
1,464,000 Judicial Stabilization Trust Acct - State 1,464,000 1,464,000 6,238,000
Pension Funding Stabilization Acct - State 44,000
94,554,000 (380,000) Total Appropriated Funds 49,034,599 94,934,000 127,983,000

Non-Appropriated Funds

Operating Budget: Program Summary

Program Title Actual Estimated Proposed
Actual Estimated Estimated Proposed Proposed
Annual Total 27,652,024 39,451,960 11,027,296 60,321,000 67,662,000

Operating Budget: Change from Preceding Biennium

Actual Estimated Proposed
Amount Percent Amount Percent Amount Percent
14,607,307 42.4% 1,444,657 2.9% 77,503,744 153.5%

Employment Summary

  Actual Estimated Proposed
  2020-21 Actual 2021-22 Estimated 2022-23 Estimated 2023-24 Proposed 2024-25 Proposed
FTE Staff Years 4.4 6.2 8.5 8.5 8.5