Future vision

The NEJL and the Consortium pursue three broad functions.

Digital Gateway

First, the NEJL and the Consortium are the digital repository and gateway for both digital and digitized access to justice, civil legal aid and public defender materials which are collected by the NEJL and by other institutions, including civil legal aid programs, bar associations, indigent criminal defense programs, law schools and public and university libraries. These include:

  • Digitized books, monographs, manuscripts, and both published and non-published articles on the histories of civil legal aid and indigent criminal defense.
  • Histories produced by or prepared about local or state legal aid and indigent criminal defense programs.
    State access to justice plans, publications, reports, studies, cost-benefit analyses and related materials on access to justice developments at the state level.
  • Podcasts of oral histories collected by NEJL and other entities (American Bar Association, law schools and other research or library institutions).
  • Videos, films, and digital histories that can be made available for viewing through social media.

The Consortium and NEJL will produce guides and/or directories for all of the digitized materials. These will be available for use by scholars and researchers, legal aid and defender programs, access to justice commissions, the American Bar Association, state and local bar associations, college and law students, the media, the general public, and international scholars and law entities.

The Consortium maintains its own website and links to the NEJL website.

National Archive

Second, the NEJL, through Georgetown Law Center Law Library, will continue to be a repository of archival papers, oral histories, photos and memorabilia about the history of civil legal aid and indigent criminal defense in the United States.

Collecting and preserving oral histories, collected Papers and historical documents and books.

Collecting American and International books and publications that document the development of civil legal aid and indigent criminal defense systems.

In addition, NEJL will help those engaged in historical and legal research by providing reference and research assistance regarding archival materials

NEJL will also provide guidance for the donation of historical materials to the NEJL and to other archival repositories.

The NEJL has collected papers and historical documents from a large number of individuals and institutions and videotaped 130 oral histories of the early leaders of federally funded civil legal aid and indigent criminal defense primarily from the 1960s,1970s and 1980s. The Consortium and NEJL continue to conduct oral histories of many key leaders of civil legal aid and indigent criminal defense communities, access to justice leaders, bar leaders, and others involved in the national efforts to preserve and expand civil legal aid and indigent criminal defense.

Information about the past, whether in papers or oral histories, is not be collected solely to be a resource for historical scholars. This information will be used in products and programs produced by the Consortium. The NEJL will also prepare historical exhibits that capture important historical events and display them at various conferences or other appropriate venues (such as the NLADA conferences and trainings, the ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference, etc).

Programs and Products

Third, the Consortium, in conjunction with NEJL, will produce programs and products of use to civil legal aid and indigent defense programs.

Produce workshops and seminars relating to the history and future of civil legal aid and indigent criminal defense at the Equal Justice Conference (ABA/NLADA), the NLADA Annual Conference and at DC Venues such as Georgetown Law Center. These programs would be designed to interest the various constituencies such as:

  • Civil legal aid
  • Indigent criminal defense
  • Access to Justice Commissions and similar entities
  • Pro Bono leaders
  • Self help programs
  • Court leaders on access to justice
  • LSC, state funders and foundations that support legal aid programs

Produce products that would be distributed to and useful for many of the various constituencies such as electronic communications about and short digital presentations on various aspects of the history, development and future of legal aid and indigent defense, pro bono, poverty law and access to justice.
These might include:

  • The history of the civil legal aid program including the federal legal services program at the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Legal Services Corporation.
  • The history and development of indigent criminal defense programs.
  • The history and development of State Access to Justice Commission and state bar entities that develop access to justice initiatives within states.
  • Visions for the future by legal aid and access to justice leaders and thinkers.

These products would be distributed to and useful for the civil legal aid and indigent criminal defense programs and staff, members of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the American Bar Association, state and local bar associations, the Legal Services Corporation, the Management Information Exchange, the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, National Center for Access to Justice, Voices for Civil Justice, Self- Represented Litigation network, libraries and law schools.

As a communication vehicle, the Consortium has captured as special topics on its website the content of NEJL blog, which includes commentary and/or citations to relevant historical developments. We seek to expand readership of this blog so that it reaches the legal aid community including both civil and defender program staff, access to justice community, and other interested communities such as law school professors and clinicians, and legal aid researchers.