The executive director of nonprofit South Jersey Legal Services said state budget cuts meant his organization would be laying off about a third of its employees - including about a quarter of its attorneys - by the end of the year.

Executive Director Douglas E. Gershuny said in a statement that his nonprofit had already cut $1.1 million from its budget in response to falling revenue from interest on legal trust accounts, which helps fund state legal-aid programs.

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The agency provides no-cost legal assistance in some civil cases to qualified lower-income people in seven counties including Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland. The cuts mean it will handle about 3,500 fewer cases, Gershuny said.

The state budget adopted in June cuts funding for state legal aid programs by one-third, or $9.7 million, across the state, removing another $1.8 million from South Jersey Legal Services funding.

In response, the nonprofit said it expected to lay off 27 of its 95 employees, including 10 of its 43 attorneys, by year's end.

In its most recent tax filing, filed Aug. 12, 2009, the agency said it received $10.1 million in 2007 and $9.9 million in 2008 from all sources. It spent $9.8 million in 2007 and $9.7 million in 2008, and its net assets rose from $1.7 million in 2007 to $1.9 million in 2008.

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