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More Than 100 Employees To Be Laid-Off By Legal Assistance Society

By on January 3, 2016

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Legal Assistance Society (LAS) could be implementing a severance plan that may leave more than 100 of its 250 employees without a job.
The information about LAS’ severance plan was revealed by the Puerto Rico Legal Assistance Society Independent Lawyers Union (ILU) after its representatives met with the institution’s management to discuss a series of proposals for personnel, salary and benefits reductions in light of the economic crisis LAS is facing. 
According to union leaders, the Treasury Department has retained some $9.6 million, or 30 percent of their budget. In addition, the Treasury has also been retaining the funds generated by the cancellation of legal stamps in sworn statements and public documents. This amount is estimated to be some $4 million. 
The lawyers’ union says the Treasury, which acts only as a collections agent, has not made even a partial payment on the revenues for the sale of stamps so far this fiscal year. 
LAS is a local non-profit corporation dedicated to provide legal services to criminally accused low income persons. The corporation’s lawyers represent almost 80 percent of all people criminally accused. 
The union informed that if the severance plan comes into effect and austerity measures are taken, LAS will not be able to assume any new cases beginning January 1st. These measures will also have an impact on existing cases, which will be delayed and/or the defendants may not have legal counsel. Also, there could be a surge in the number of motions for speedy trials. 
The union believes there could be a “communication problem” between the House of Representatives, the Management and Budget Office, the Treasury Department and La Fortaleza because Gov. Alejandro García Padilla has paid great deference for the work done by LAS and the lawyers that work there.
“All things considered, we believe this situation with LAS’ funds can only be due to a communication problem between the agencies,” said ILU’s president Antonio G. Torres.

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