Legal needs are real, but can also be virtually open-ended. Studies tell us that 85% of the civil legal needs of low income persons are currently not being met but we have no idea as to what portion of that 85% legal assistance would meaningfully help to resolve those needs, or how the cost of providing that assistance compares to the benefit that would be generated. This article examines extant studies of legal needs, and concludes that there is a need for baseline data to enable us to assess the degree of legal need that takes into account the range of factors that might influence people to seek legal assistance, as well as a need for more specific justifications for legal assistance.

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