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Proposed Rule

Client Grievance Procedure

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Legal Services Corporation.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking.

SUMMARY:

This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes to amend the Legal Services Corporation's regulation on client grievance procedures. These proposed changes are intended to improve the utility of the regulation for grantees and their clients and applicants for service in the current operating environment. In particular, LSC is proposing changes to clarify what procedures are available to clients and applicants, to emphasize the importance of the grievance procedure for clients and applicants and to add clarity and flexibility in the application of the requirements for hotline and other programs serving large and widely dispersed geographic areas.

DATES:

Comments on this NPRM are due on September 20, 2006.

ADDRESSES:

Written comments may be submitted by mail, fax or e-mail to Mattie Cohan, Senior Assistant General Counsel, Office of Legal Affairs, Legal Services Corporation, 3333 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20007; 202-295-1624 (ph); 202-337-6519 (fax); mcohan@lsc.gov.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mattie Cohan, Senior Assistant General Counsel, 202-295-1624 (ph); mcohan@lsc.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

The Legal Services Corporation's (LSC) regulation on client grievance procedures, 45 CFR part 1621, adopted in 1977 and not amended since that time, requires that LSC grant recipients establish grievance procedures pursuant to which clients and applicants for service can pursue complaints with recipients related to the denial of legal assistance or dissatisfaction with the legal assistance provided. The regulation is intended to help “insure that legal services programs are accountable to those whom they are expected to serve.” 42 FR 37551 (July 22, 1977).

As noted above, part 1621 has not been amended since its original adoption nearly 30 years ago. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published in 1994 which would have instituted some more specific requirements for the grievance process and clarified the situations in which access to the grievance process is appropriate. However, due to the significant legislative activity in 1995 and 1996, no final action was ever taken on the 1994 NPRM and the original regulation has remained in effect.

As part of a staff effort in 2001 and 2002 to conduct a general review of LSC's regulations, the Regulations Review Task Force found that a number of the issues identified in the 1994 NPRM remained extant. The Task Force recommended in its Final Report (January 2002) that part 1621 be considered a higher priority item for rulemaking. Representatives of the grantee community agreed at that time that rulemaking to revise and update part 1621 was appropriate. The then-Board of Directors accepted the report and placed part 1621 on its priority rulemaking list. No action was taken on this item prior to the appointment of the current Board of Directors.

After the appointment of the current Board of Directors, LSC Management recommended to the Board that a rulemaking to consider revision of part 1621 was still appropriate. The Board of Directors agreed and on October 29, 2005, the Board of Directors directed that LSC initiate a rulemaking to Start Printed Page 48502consider revisions to LSC's regulation on client grievance procedures, 45 CFR part 1621. The Board further directed that LSC convene a Rulemaking Workshop and report back to the Operations & Regulations Committee prior to the development of any Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). LSC convened a Rulemaking Workshop on January 18, 2006, and provided a report to the Committee at its meeting on January 27, 2006. As a result of that Workshop and report the Board directed that LSC convene a second Rulemaking Workshop and report back to the Operations & Regulations Committee prior to the development of any NPRM. LSC convened a second Rulemaking Workshop on March 23, 2006 and provided a report to the Committee at its meeting on April 28, 2006. As a result of the second Workshop and report, the Board directed that a Draft NPRM be prepared. The Committee considered the Draft NPRM at its meeting of July 28, 2006 and the Board approved this NPRM for publication and comment at its meeting of July 29, 2006.

Summary of the Rulemaking Workshops

LSC convened the first Part 1621 Rulemaking Workshop on January 18, 2006. The following persons participated in the Workshop: Gloria Beaver, South Carolina Centers for Equal Justice Board of Directors (client representative); Steve Bernstein, Director, Legal Services of New York—Brooklyn; Colleen Cotter, Director, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland; Irene Morales, Director, Inland Counties Legal Services; Linda Perle, Senior Counsel, Center for Law and Social Policy; Melissa Pershing, Director, Legal Services Alabama; Don Saunders, Director, Civil Legal Services, National Legal Aid and Defender Association; Rosita Stanley, National Legal Aid and Defenders Association Client Policy Group (client representative); Chuck Wynder, Acting Vice President, National Legal Aid and Defenders Association; Steven Xanthopoulous, Director, West Tennessee Legal Services; Helaine Barnett, LSC President (welcoming remarks only); Karen Sarjeant, LSC Vice President for Programs and Compliance; Charles Jeffress, LSC Chief Administrative Officer; Mattie Condray, Senior Assistant General Counsel, LSC Office of Legal Affairs; Bert Thomas, Program Counsel, LSC Office of Compliance and Enforcement; Mike Genz, Director, LSC Office of Program Performance; Mark Freedman, Assistant General Counsel, LSC Office of Legal Affairs; and Karena Dees, Staff Attorney, LSC Office of Inspector General.

The discussion was wide-ranging and open. The participants first discussed the importance of and reason for having a client grievance process. There was general agreement that the client grievance process is important to give a voice to people seeking assistance from legal services programs and to afford them dignity. The client grievance process also helps to keep programs accountable to their clients and community. It was generally agreed that the current regulation captures this purpose well. However, it was noted that the client grievance process also can be an important part of a positive client/applicant relations program and serve as a source of information for programs and boards in assessing service and setting priorities. This potential is not currently reflected in the regulation.

The participants noted that the vast majority of complaints received involve complaints regarding the denial of service, rather than complaints over the manner or quality of service provided. The vast majority of complaints over the manner and quality of service provided are resolved at the staff level (including with the involvement of the Executive Director); complaints which need to come before the governing body's grievance committee(s) are few and far between. It was noted that many recipients have the experience of receiving multiple complaints over time from the same small number of individuals.

In the course of the discussion, the group discussed a variety of other issues related to the client grievance process. The group also considered the fact that some of the issues raised, although important, may not be easily or most appropriately addressed in the text of the regulation. Some of these issues are summarized as follows:

  • Whether programs can be more “proactive” in making clients and applicants aware of their rights under the client grievance procedure, but do so in a positive manner that does not create a negative atmosphere at the formation of the attorney-client relationship. It was noted that while informing clients of their rights can be empowering, suggesting at the outset that they may not like the service they receive is not conducive to a positive experience.
  • The appropriate role of the governing body in the client grievance/client relations process;
  • Challenges presented in providing proper notice of the client grievance procedure to applicants and clients who are served only over the telephone and/or e-mail/internet interface;
  • Application of the process to Limited English Proficiency clients and applicants;
  • Whether and to what extent it is appropriate for the composition of a grievance committee to deviate from the approximate proportions of lawyers and clients on the governing body, e.g., by a higher proportion of clients than the governing body has generally;
  • Challenges presented by a requirement for in-person hearing and what other options may be appropriate;
  • Whether the limitation of the grievance process related to denials of service to the three enumerated reasons for denial in the current rule is too limited given the wide range of reasons a program may deny someone service;
  • Whether the grievance process should include cases handled by non-staff such as PAI attorneys, volunteers, attorneys on assignment to the grantee (often as part of a law firm pro bono program);

Finally, the group was in general agreement that additional opportunity for comment and fact finding would prove useful to both LSC and the legal services community before LSC committed to moving ahead with the development of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

LSC convened its second Part 1621 Rulemaking Workshop March 23, 2006. The following persons participated in the second Workshop: Claudia Colindres Johnson, Hotline Director, Bay Area Legal Aid (CA); Terrence Dicks, Client Representative, Georgia Legal Services; Breckie Hayes-Snow, Supervising Attorney, Legal Advice and Referral Center (NH); Norman Janes, Executive Director, Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut; Harry Johnson, Client Representative, NLADA Client Policy Group; Joan Kleinberg, Managing Attorney, CLEAR, Northwest Justice Project (WA); George Lee, Client Representative, Kentucky Clients Council; Richard McMahon, Executive Director, New Center for Legal Advocacy (MA); Linda Perle, Senior Counsel, Center for Law and Social Policy; Peggy Santos, Client Representative, Massachusetts Legal Aid Corporation; Don Saunders, Director, Civil Legal Services, National Legal Aid and Defender Association; Rosita Stanley, Client Representative, NLADA Client Policy Group; Helaine Barnett, LSC President (welcoming remarks only); Karen Sarjeant, LSC Vice President for Programs and Compliance; Charles Jeffress, LSC Chief Administrative Officer; Mattie Condray, Senior Assistant General Counsel, LSC Office of Legal Affairs; Bertrand Start Printed Page 48503Thomas, Program Counsel, LSC Office of Compliance and Enforcement; Cheryl Nolan, Program Counsel, LSC Office of Program Performance; and Mark Freedman, Assistant General Counsel, LSC Office of Legal Affairs.

The discussion at the second Workshop focused primarily on how hotlines approach the issue of providing notice to clients and applicants and how they process grievances given that in-person contact with such programs is extremely rare, and how clients and applicants experience the grievance process and what the process means for them. There was also some discussion of additional issues, such as client confidentiality and potential application of the grievance process to private attorneys providing services pursuant to a grantee's PAI program. The following issues and themes emerged from the discussion:

  • The programs felt that a strength of the regulation is its flexibility. Programs have different delivery systems, even among hotlines, and different approaches. They cautioned against adopting specific practices in the regulation itself. Rather, they felt that programs should be free to adopt practices that best meet their delivery model and communities.
  • Hotlines have different approaches to providing notice to callers. Some programs include it in their automated script. There is some concern about making the initial contact seem negative by bringing up the grievance process. There is also a concern about callers being denied service without knowing about their grievance rights. Many participants felt that the regulation should not require notice in the automated hotline script.
  • The regulation could emphasize the importance of the notice but leave it to the programs to figure out the best way to provide it in different situations.
  • Client and applicant dignity is very important. Most concerns are addressed when the applicant feels that they were heard and taken seriously, even if they are denied service.
  • All of the programs reported that intake staff will deal with dissatisfied callers by offering to let them talk to a supervisor, sometimes the executive director. They are given the choice of talking to someone or filing a written complaint. They almost always want to talk to someone. Talking with someone higher up almost always resolves the issue and usually entails an explanation of the decision not to provide service.
  • Decisions to deny service sometimes involve the priorities of other entities such as pro bono programs that take referrals. Some programs handle intake for themselves and for other organizations. The criteria for intake are not always the same. A program may have to handle complaints about denials of service that involve a different program's priorities.
  • In many situations there is nothing more that the program can do, especially when a denial of service decision was correct. There was a concern about creating lots of procedures that would give a grievant false hope. It is important that the applicant get an “honest no” in a timely fashion.
  • The oral and written statements to a grievance committee do not require an in person hearing. These can be conveyed by conference call, which may be better in some circumstances. In some cases though, clients or applicants have neither transportation nor access to a phone. Programs may have difficulty providing grievance procedures in those situations.
  • Hotlines have a number of callers who never speak to a member of the hotline staff. They include hang ups, disconnected calls, people who got information through the automated system, and people who could not wait long enough. These calls may include frustrated applicants who never got to the denial of service stage.
  • Web sites could provide client grievance information, but that also raises questions about how to make grievance information available only to people with complaints about that program. There is a danger of a generally available form becoming a conduit for a flood of complaints unrelated to a program and its services.
  • The grievance process itself should not be intimidating. Often the applicants and clients are already very frustrated and upset before contacting the program.
  • There was discussion of what process, if any, a client had for quality concerns with a PAI attorney or a pro bono referral. One program reported informally mediating these disputes. Another program reported surveying clients at the end of PAI cases and following up on any negative comments. One program reported that its separate pro bono program has its own grievance procedures. There was a concern that private attorneys would not volunteer if they felt that they would be subject to a program's grievance process and grievance committee. There was some discussion acknowledging a distinction between paid and unpaid PAI attorneys, but noting that clients do not see a difference.

Section-by-Section Analysis

After considering the discussions from the Workshops, LSC has determined that the regulation is generally working as intended and that some of the issues raised in the course of the Workshops, while of significant importance, are not issues which can easily be addressed by changes in the regulation itself. Accordingly, LSC is proposing only modest changes to the text of the regulation. LSC believes, however, that these changes will improve the regulation and benefit both grantees and clients and applicants for legal assistance. These changes are discussed in greater detail below.

Section 1621.1—Purpose

LSC is proposing to amend this section to clarify that the grievance procedures required by this section are intended for the use and benefit of applicants for legal assistance and for clients of recipients and not for the use or benefit of third parties. In addition, LSC proposes to delete the reference to “an effective remedy” because the grievance process is just that, a process and not a guarantee of any specific outcome or “remedy” for the complainant. LSC believes that these changes are consistent with the current application and understanding of the rule and are appropriate to more accurately reflect the purpose of the regulation.

LSC considered including a statement in this section clarifying that the client grievance procedure is not intended to and does not create any entitlement on the part of applicants to legal assistance. The reason for including such a statement would be that the vast majority of complaints received are from applicants who have been denied legal assistance and it is possible that having a clarifying statement in the regulation would help to limit such complaints. However, LSC ultimately determined that including a statement to this effect would not likely be very useful because it seems unlikely that many applicants for legal assistance will have read the regulation prior to applying for legal assistance. As such, it seems an unnecessary addition to the regulation. LSC invites comment on this issue.

Another issue which came up during the Workshops was the ancillary use by recipients of the client grievance procedure as a feedback mechanism to help recipients identify issues such as the need for priorities changes (i.e., because there are increasing numbers of applicants seeking legal assistance for problems not otherwise part of the recipient's priorities), foreign language Start Printed Page 48504assistance, staff training, etc. Although LSC believes that information collected through the client grievance procedure can and should, as a best practice, be used in this manner, such ancillary use is incidental and not the purpose of the client grievance procedure per se. LSC believes that adding a reference to such ancillary use to the purpose statement of the regulation would be inappropriate and would dilute the focus of the regulation from its purpose of providing applicants and clients with an effective avenue for pursuing complaints. LSC invites comment on this issue.

Section 1621.2—Grievance Committee

LSC is not proposing any changes to this section. There was discussion in one of the Workshops about whether and to what extent it is appropriate for the composition of a grievance committee to deviate from the approximate proportions of lawyers and clients on the governing body, e.g. by a higher proportion of clients than the governing body has generally. It was not clear from the discussion, however, what such a change would accomplish and there was no clear feeling that the current requirement was resulting in ineffective or inappropriate grievance committees. Accordingly, LSC considers the current wording of the regulation, which requires the proportion of clients and lawyer members of the grievance committee to approximate that of the governing body, to be sufficiently flexible for recipients to respond to local conditions. As such, LSC believes any change to this section to be unwarranted.

Section 1621.3—Complaints by Applicants About Denial of Legal Assistance

LSC is proposing to reorganize the regulation to move the current section dealing with complaints about denial of service to applicants before the section on complaints by clients about the manner or quality of legal assistance provided. This change is being proposed for two reasons. First, the vast majority of complaints that recipients receive are from applicants who have been denied legal assistance for one reason or another. As such, it seems appropriate for this section to appear first in the regulation. Second, and more importantly, the current regulation (and the regulation as being proposed herein) requires recipients' to adopt a simpler procedure for the handling of these complaints. There was some concern that some level of confusion is created by having the more detailed procedures required by the section on complaints about the manner or quality of legal assistance appear first in the regulation. Put another way, there was concern that the current organization of the regulation obscures the fact that recipients are permitted to adopt a different procedure for processing the denial of complaints of legal assistance by applicants. Accordingly, LSC believes the proposed reorganization will clarify this matter and make the regulation easier for recipients and LSC to use.

In addition to the proposed reorganization discussed above, LSC is proposing modest substantive changes to the regulation. First, LSC is proposing to add language to the title of this section and the text of the regulation to clarify that this section refers to complaints by applicants about the denial of legal assistance. Consistent with the proposed changes in the purpose section, LSC believes these changes will help clarify that the grievance procedure is available to applicants and not to third parties wishing to complain about denial of service to applicants who are not themselves complaining. LSC notes that for applicants who are underage or mentally incompetent, the applicant him or herself is not likely to be directly applying and LSC does not intend this change to impede the ability of the person (parent, guardian or other representative) to act on that applicant's behalf. Rather, LSC intends the proposed clarification to apply to situations in which a neighbor, friend, relative or other third party would seek to complain in a situation in which the applicant is otherwise capable of complaining personally.

Second, LSC proposes to delete the language which limits complaints about the denial of legal assistance to situations in which the denial was related to the financial ineligibility of the applicant, the fact that legal assistance sought is prohibited by the LSC Act or regulations or lies outside the recipient's priorities. Applicants are denied for these and other reasons, such as lack of resources, application of the recipient's case acceptance guidelines, the merit of the applicant's legal claim, etc. By removing these limitations, the regulation will apply in all situations of a denial of legal assistance. From the applicant's point of view it is immaterial why the denial has occurred and LSC can discern no good reason to afford some applicants, but not others, an avenue for review of decisions to deny legal assistance. Moreover, the recipients participating in the workshops noted that they do not make any distinction between applicants on this basis and make their grievance procedure available to any applicant denied service, regardless of the reason. LSC believes that the proposed change will, therefore, not create any new burdens on recipients, yet will implement the policy in a more appropriate manner.

Third, LSC proposes to clarify that the phrase “adequate notice” as it is used in this section is adequate notice of the complaint procedures. The current regulation is vague on this point, although in context the logical inference is that it must refer to notice of what the complaint procedures are. LSC believes clarifying the language on this point would be useful. LSC is further proposing to add the words “as practicable” after “adequate notice.” LSC believes that this change will help recipients who do not have in-person contact with many applicants and who, therefore, cannot rely on posted notice of the complaint procedures in the office. Such recipients use a variety of methods of providing notice, from posting on websites, to inclusion of notice in phone menus, to having intake workers and attorneys speaking with applicants provide the information orally. All of these methods can be sufficient and appropriate to local circumstances. The proposed phrasing is intended to ensure that recipients have sufficient flexibility to determine exactly how and when notice of the complaint procedures are provided to applicants, while retaining the requirement that the notice be “adequate” to achieve the purpose that applicants know their rights in a timely and substantively meaningful way so as to exercise them if desired.

Finally, LSC is proposing to add a statement that the required procedure must be designed to foster effective communications between recipients and complaining applicants. It was clear in the Workshops that this is very important to both applicants and recipients. Indeed, it is one of the main reasons for having a complaint procedure. Accordingly, LSC believes it is important for the regulation to reflect this. Because LSC is confident that the vast majority of recipient grievance procedures are already designed to foster effective communications, the proposed addition to the regulation should not create any undue burden on recipients. LSC considered also proposing to add a statement that the required procedure must be designed to treat complaining applicants with dignity, as this was another recurring refrain LSC heard throughout the Workshops. Ultimately, however, LSC believes that treating applicants with dignity is such a basic duty, it is neither Start Printed Page 48505necessary nor appropriate to make it a specific regulatory requirement in this context. LSC invites comment on this issue.

LSC intends that existing complaint procedures for applicants who are denied legal assistance which would meet the proposed revised requirements may continue to be used and would be considered to be sufficient to meet their obligations under this section.

Section 1621.4—Complaints by Clients About Manner or Quality of Legal Assistance

As noted above, LSC is proposing to reorganize the regulation to move the current section dealing with complaints about legal assistance provided to clients after the section on complaints by applicants about denial of legal assistance. For a discussion of the reasons for this proposed change, see the discussion at section 1621.3, above.

LSC is also proposing some minor substantive changes. First, LSC is proposing to add language to the title of this section and the text of the regulation to clarify that this section refers to complaints by clients about the manner or quality of legal assistance provided. Consistent with the proposed changes in the purpose section, LSC believes these changes will help clarify that the grievance procedure is available to clients and not to third parties wishing to complain about the legal assistance provided to clients who are not themselves complaining. As with the similar proposed changes to the section of applicants, LSC notes that for clients who are underage or mentally incompetent, the client him or herself is not likely to be directly applying and LSC does not intend this change to impede the ability of the person (parent, guardian or other representative) to act on that client's behalf. Rather, LSC intends the proposed clarification to apply to situations in which a neighbor, friend, relative or other third party would seek to complain in a situation in which the client is otherwise capable of complaining personally.

LSC is also proposing some revision of the language setting forth the minimum requirements for the required grievance procedures. Except as noted below, these changes are not intended to create any substantive change to the regulation, but, rather, to provide more structural clarity to the regulation. The changes being proposed do contain a few substantive changes. One such proposed change is the addition of a statement that the procedures be designed to foster effective communications between recipients and complaining clients. The rationale for this proposed change is the same as for the parallel proposed change in proposed section 1621.3, above. As with proposed section 1621.3, LSC considered also proposing to add a statement that the required procedure must be designed to treat complaining clients with dignity, but chose not to for the same reasons articulated in that proposed section, above.

LSC is also proposing to amend the time specified in the rule regarding when the client must be informed of the complaint procedures available to clients. Currently, clients must be informed “at the time of the initial visit.” This is typically accomplished in a few different ways, such as through the posting of the complaint procedures in the office, by providing an information sheet to clients or by including information about the grievance procedure in the retainer agreement, etc. However, the phrase “at the time of the initial visit” tends to imply an in-person initial contact—a situation which in increasingly uncommon for many recipients and clients. Also, a client may not actually be accepted as a client at the time of the initial contact (whether in person or not). LSC believes that what is important is that when the person being accepted as client be informed of the available complaint procedure at that time because that is when the information appears to be most useful and meaningful for the client. Accordingly, LSC is proposing the clients be informed of the grievance procedures available to them to complain about the manner or quality of the legal assistance they receive “at the time the person is accepted as a client or as soon thereafter as practicable.” LSC is not proposing to dictate how that notice must be provided. LSC believes that this change will assist recipients and clients in situations in which the client does not have an in-person initial visit and will afford recipients the flexibility to provide notice in a manner and time appropriate to local conditions.

LSC intends that a recipient's existing complaint procedures for clients who are dissatisfied with the manner or quality of legal assistance provided which would meet the proposed revised requirements may continue to be used and would be considered to be sufficient to meet their obligations under this section.

The last change LSC is proposing to this section is to include an explicit requirement that the grievance procedures provide some method of reviewing complaints by clients about the manner or quality of service provided by private attorneys pursuant to the recipient's private attorney involvement (PAI) program under 45 CFR part 1614. The regulation has previously been silent on this matter and LSC has not required recipients to apply the client grievance procedure to private attorneys. LSC notes, however, that from the clients' standpoint it is immaterial whether legal assistance happens to be provided directly by the recipient or by a private attorney pursuant to the PAI program. In both cases, the client remains a client of the recipient and should be afforded some avenue to complain about legal assistance provided. At the same time, subjecting private attorneys to the same grievance procedure that applies to the recipient would likely be administratively burdensome and likely impede recipients' ability to recruit private attorneys for the PAI program. In addition, some PAI programs, such as ones administered by bar associations, already have their own complaint procedures. Also, recipients are required by the section 1614.3(d)(3) of the PAI regulation to provide effective oversight of their private attorneys. Providing some process for review of complaints about their service is reasonably considered part of that responsibility. In light of the above, LSC believes that it is appropriate that this regulation contain a requirement that recipients establish a procedure to review complaints by clients about the manner or quality of service of PAI attorneys. LSC is not proposing to require that recipients afford the same procedure as provided to clients being provided service directly by the recipient. Moreover, LSC intends that existing formal and informal methods for review of complaints about PAI attorneys currently meeting recipients' obligations under part 1614 continue to be used and would be considered to be sufficient to meet their obligations under this section.

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List of Subjects in 45 CFR Part 1621

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For reasons set forth above, and under the authority of 42 U.S.C. 2996g(e), LSC proposes to revise 45 CFR part 1621 as follows:

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PART 1621—CLIENT GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

1621.1
Purpose.
1621.2
Grievance Committee.
1621.3
Complaints by applicants about denial of legal assistance.
1621.4
Complaints by clients about manner or quality of legal assistance.
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Start Printed Page 48506 Authority: Sec. 1006(b)(1), 42 U.S.C. 2996e(b)(1); sec. 1006(b)(3), 42 U.S.C. 2996e(b)(3); sec. 1007(a)(1), 42 U.S.C. 2996f(a)(1).

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Purpose.

The part is intended to help ensure that recipients provide the highest quality legal assistance to clients as required by the LSC Act and are accountable to clients and applicants for legal assistance by requiring recipients to establish grievance procedures to process complaints by applicants about the denial of legal assistance and clients about the manner or quality of legal assistance provided.

Grievance Committee.

The governing body of a recipient shall establish a grievance committee or committees, composed of lawyer and client members of the governing body, in approximately the same proportion in which they are on the governing body.

Complaints by applicants about denial of legal assistance.

A recipient shall establish a simple procedure for review of decisions to deny legal assistance to applicants. The procedure shall, at a minimum, provide: A method for the recipient to provide applicants with adequate notice as practicable of the complaint procedures; information about how to make a complaint; and an opportunity for applicants to confer with Executive Director or the Executive Director's designee, and, to the extent practicable, with a representative of the governing body. The procedure must be designed to foster effective communications between the recipient and complaining applicants.

Complaints by clients about manner or quality of legal assistance.

(a) A recipient shall establish procedures for the review of complaints by clients about the manner or quality of legal assistance that has been rendered by the recipient to the client.

(b) The procedures shall be designed to foster effective communications between the recipient and the complaining client and, at a minimum, provide:

(1) A method for providing a client, at the time the person is accepted as a client or as soon thereafter as practicable, with adequate notice of the complaint procedures and how to make a complaint;

(2) For prompt consideration of each complaint by the Executive Director of the recipient, or the Executive Director's designee,

(3) An opportunity for the complainant, if the Executive Director or the Executive Director's designee is unable to resolve the matter, to submit an oral and written statement to a grievance committee established by the governing body as required by section 1621.2 of this part. The procedures shall also: Provide that the opportunity to submit an oral statement may be accomplished in person, by teleconference, or through some other reasonable alternative, permit a complainant to be accompanied by another person who may speak on that complainant's behalf; and provide that, upon request of the complainant, the recipient shall transcribe a brief written statement, dictated by the complainant for inclusion in the recipient's complaint file.

(c) Consistent with its responsibilities under 45 CFR 1614.3(d)(3), a recipient shall establish a procedure to review complaints by clients about the manner or quality of legal assistance that has been rendered by a private attorney pursuant to the recipient's private attorney involvement program under 45 CFR part 1614.

(d) A file containing every complaint and a statement of its disposition shall be preserved for examination by LSC. The file shall include any written statement submitted by the complainant or transcribed by the recipient from a complainant's oral statement.

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Dated: August 14, 2006.

Victor M. Fortuno,

Vice President and General Counsel.

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[FR Doc. E6-13700 Filed 8-18-06; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7050-01-P