Editorial: Legal Aid Restrictions

What do stem cell researchers and legal aid lawyers have in common? An op-ed article in the October 2 edition of the Legal Times illustrates how the federal government has used grant restrictions to limit use of private funds in medical research and delivery of legal services to the poor. In both cases, the government required separate laboratories or offices for grantees to carry out privately funded activity: stem cell research or representation of low-income people in class actions, regulatory and legislative proceedings and more. The National Institute of Health recently changed its policy, allowing labs to use the same accounting practices used by most federal grantees to ensure that government funds do not subsidize other activities. This decision ends the expensive duplication of lab facilities and lost opportunities for collaboration created by the separate physical facility requirement. The Legal Times article, written by Laura Abel of the Brennan Center for Justice, explains why the federal government needs to make a similar change for legal aid programs.
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