NEW VIDEO: “Strands of Justice: The Story of Civil Legal Aid in America”

See the video
In America’s civil courts, you can lose your home, family or livelihood.
But 3 of 4 people are in court alone, with no legal help.
Civil legal aid is the equalizer.

From Londen Productions, a new 33-minute video. see more >>

Statue of Liberty graphic,

This website tells history

We tell this history to advance access to justice, civil legal aid, and public defense in the U.S. The website includes narrative histories, a list of oral histories from key players, and links to resources at the National Equal Justice Library, a special collection at Georgetown Law Library.

This is the website of the Consortium for the National Equal Justice Library. The Consortium is an independent 501(c)(3) organization housed at NLADA’s office in Washington, DC. The Consortium is the governing entity responsible for the creation, oversight and funding of the NEJL special collection at Georgetown Law Library. more about us >>


Historical researchers — Unique collections of oral histories, key court cases, and other info.

Legal aid practitioners — Help us make this site better with info from your state

Focused on my state — Oral histories, cases and legal aid organizations from my state

International visitors — Unfamiliar with US legal system and US legal aid

Multimedia — Video and audio


Sara Mayeux, Published in June 2020, Free Justice: A History of the Public Defender in Twentieth-Century America is by Sara Mayeux, associate professor at Vanderbilt Law School. read more >>

“This is an excellent work of legal history that speaks to the present as we systemically think about the connections between poverty, race, incarceration, and the criminal justice system.”
—Felice Batlan, author of Women and Justice for the Poor: A History of Legal Aid, 1863–1945

“A brilliant book that should be read by everyone interested in the dimensions of the contemporary American legal regime.”
—Hendrik Hartog, Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor in the History of American Law and Liberty, Emeritus, Princeton University

“Marks the dazzling debut of a supremely gifted legal historian.”
—Justin Driver, author of The Schoolhouse Gate: Public Education, the Supreme Court, and the Battle for the American Mind

IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


To Establish Justice for All by Earl Johnson, book cover

To Establish Justice for All: The Past and Future of Civil Legal Aid in the United States is a three-volume history of civil legal aid in the United States. Published in 2013 by Praeger, this history was authored by Earl Johnson, who served for a quarter-century as a Justice on the California Court of Appeal. read more >>

“The definitive history of civil legal aid in the United States. It is comprehensive and beautifully written.”
–Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law

IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


Nan Heald
Nan Heald, Executive Director of Pine Tree Legal Aid 19902-2022. Died Jan. 20, 2022.

Edgar Cahn
Edgar Cahn, legal reformer. Died Jan. 23, 2022.

See more names In Memoriam >>