Access to Justice movement in the US: Overview


Table of contents

Georgetown University Law Center Dean William M. Treanor at podium
Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor welcomes attendees at the Legal Service Corporation’s Forum on Increasing Access to Justice on April 9, 2019.

Within the last fifteen years, a broad access to justice movement has emerged at the state level, including state supreme courts, access to justice commissions, bar associations, self-help centers, technology initiatives and researchers on delivery of legal services. This movement seeks to provide access to courts and other adjudicatory bodies to achieve equal justice for all. This includes millions of individuals and families that are not eligible for civil legal aid. In addition to civil legal aid programs, this movement involves other providers of civil legal information and assistance and a range of initiatives to improve access to and effective functioning of state courts.

This movement seeks 100% access to effective assistance to address civil legal needs. The Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators at their joint meeting in July 2015 adopted Resolution 5 specifically supporting “the aspirational goal of 100 percent access to effective assistance for essential civil legal needs,” urged “their members to provide leadership in achieving that goal and to work with their Access to Justice Commission or other such entities to develop a strategic plan with realistic and measurable outcomes,” and urged “the National Center for State Courts and other national organizations to develop tools and provide assistance to states in achieving the goal of 100 percent access through a continuum of meaningful and appropriate services.”

A comprehensive “access-to-justice system” focuses on state courts and administrative agencies as well as prevention of disputes, and numerous matters that are not necessarily handled in courts. Its goal is not solely access to courts but providing equal justice for all.

Agenda for access to justice

Coordinated and integrated civil legal aid system: Access to Justice cannot be achieved without a coordinated and integrated system of robust civil legal aid and pro bono programs that provide a full range of services and are accessible by all low-income persons in a state. The outline of such a system was set out in the American Bar Association (ABA) Principles of a State System for the Delivery of Civil Legal Aid. The goal is, within a state, to be sufficient civil legal aid programs to serve all persons including undocumented persons and prisoners who need a lawyer to resolve civil legal problems. The programs must be able to provide the full range of legal services without restrictions on the type of assistance provided.

Specifically, the system must ensure the availability for aggregate remedies for common claims and issues affecting neighborhoods and particular groups of clients through the use of class actions, and policy advocacy before legislative bodies and administrative agencies The system must also ensure systemic advocacy in courts, agencies, and communities to ensure that the rights and interests of low-income people are protected and advanced, that poverty is alleviated and that racial inclusion and justice are pursued. Legal aid programs, pro bono providers, human services agencies, and other providers serving the poor should collaborate to ensure a seamless system of legal services to the low-income citizens in the state. There should be a state capacity for support, training, and coordinated state level advocacy.

Right to counsel in civil cases: A critical corollary to this system of providers is a right to counsel in cases where lawyers are needed for justice to be equal and real. In 2006, the ABA adopted a resolution urging federal, state, and territorial governments to provide legal counsel as a matter of right at public expense to low income persons in those categories of adversarial proceedings where basic human needs are at stake, such as those involving shelter, sustenance, safety, health or child custody, as determined by each jurisdiction. The National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel (NCCRC) actively seeks to establish such a right and catalogues and coordinates efforts to achieve such a right.

Increased pro bono initiatives: State and local bar associations, access to justice commissions and related entities, and legal aid providers are increasing pro bono efforts among all lawyers including in-house counsel and law faculty not admitted in a state, government lawyers, retired lawyers and law students residing in a state through traditional means, mentorship, and support as well as through means such as:

  • Mandatory reporting of pro bono hours and financial contributions for civil legal aid providers
  • Technology assistance to civil legal aid providers
  • Unbundled volunteer lawyer programs
  • Technology innovations to enable and expand pro bono

Full utilization of technology: The access to justice systems are seeking to utilize fully technology advances in the practice of law and the delivery of justice. Included among such advances are:

  • Websites that provide legal information, including how to access civil legal aid and pro bono programs
  • Document assembly systems for use by lawyers and litigants that permit a lay person to generate and file accurate court documents
  • Hotlines and other means of providing advice and brief service
  • Systems, including mobile apps providing universal access to civil legal aid programs, self-help centers and other providers
  • Online dispute resolution forums that permit parties to resolve legal problems themselves with oversight and review by courts
  • Use of social media for information, training and other justice related activities.

Triage systems: The state systems are developing accurate triage systems (not just one) for matching a client’s problem with the appropriate level of legal advice and representation. The goal should be to create a system that provides the level of assistance that a client actually needs not just to accept the current system’s limitations of assistance. There are theoretical constructs often in the form of a pyramid of what appropriate assistance would be for various types of clients and legal problems, but little actual evidence of what level of assistance would be necessary to resolving different types of issues affecting individuals with differing social, racial, ethnic, gender, geographical and economic circumstances. In 2017, LSC, Microsoft Corporation, and Pro Bono Net named Alaska and Hawaii as state partners in a pilot program to develop online, statewide legal portals to direct individuals with civil legal needs to the most appropriate forms of assistance.

Referral systems: States are creating effective referral systems including enhanced collaboration with human services and other relevant entities to ensure that clients with legal problems are referred to the appropriate civil legal assistance providers.

Unbundled representation: states are educating lawyers about, and specifically encouraging lawyers to undertake, unbundled discrete task representation.

Self-help assistance: Many states are developing comprehensive and coordinated self-help assistance to unrepresented litigants through court-based self-help centers. One example is the system of self-help centers used in California courts, which are court-based, staffed self-help centers supervised by an attorney. The Self-Represented Litigation (SRL) Network brings together courts, bar and access to justice organizations in support of innovations in services for the self-represented and has undertaken a number of activities to ensure the justice system works for all including those forced to go to court on their own. See

Court reform: States are reforming how courts operate to ensure efficient and effective access, implementing:

  • E-filing for all including those who cannot afford fees
  • Changes in judicial codes and practices so that judges make reasonable accommodations for unrepresented litigants to have their matters heard fairly
  • Court-based programs to assist those with special needs including disabilities, limited English proficiency, the elderly, and others.
  • Simplification of court procedures and rules to enable unrepresented litigants and lay advocates to better present and advocate before the judge
  • Creation of new forums to efficiently and effectively resolve routine matters

Law student assistance: States are expanding the use and education of law students through pro bono requirements, clinical programs that serve indigent clients, internships with providers, inclusion of access to justice developments in the curricula and other means.

Non-lawyers: States are experimenting with and pursue using lay advocates (non-lawyers) in certain administrative proceedings, simple court cases, and as facilitators in courts and community settings.

Language access: States are developing comprehensive and enforceable language access services suitable to the communities served to enable all clients to effectively communicate to the court or other adjudicatory personnel and to understand their rights, responsibilities and adjudicatory processes.

Legal incubators: states are pursuing legal incubators. Incubators provide support to young lawyers interested in launching their own practice to serve low-income communities that lack access to legal representations. Incubators foster the lawyers working with them to understand and cultivate the services they wish to provide. They perform market research to determine how to best reach the underserved population. They assist the community in identifying legal needs, and create legal packages that are affordable, understandable, and accessible. The end goal is to assist attorney is establishing successful and sustainable practices.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: States are continuing to facilitate alternative dispute resolution where appropriate.

Libraries:, states are ensuring education and outreach to law libraries and all public libraries to enable their staff to suggest legal resources, information, and referrals to individuals seeking assistance.

Delivery research: Our system is developing an ongoing and institutionalized capacity to conduct research on how to improve the delivery of civil legal aid and conduct and evaluate demonstration projects testing new ideas and innovations for possible replication across the system. The United States had such a component, the Research Institute, during the first era of the Legal Services Corporation from 1976 – 1981. During the funding and political crisis of 1981, the Research Institute was closed. Several recent developments are promising. Harvard Law School opened an Access to Justice Lab is dedicated to transforming adjudicatory administration and engagement with the courts into evidence-based fields. LSC has raised private funding for and has recently established an Office of Data Governance and Analysis which now has six analysts. The Justice Lab is a new center created at Georgetown University Law Center to address in a variety of ways the access crisis in our civil justice system. Rebecca Sandefur, a professor at the University of Illinois and a researcher at the American Bar Foundation, has actively perused a delivery research agenda.

In addition to these court and delivery focused strategies, state access to justice efforts should pursue other strategies to expand access to justice. Possible initiatives include:

  • Working with legislative bodies and administrative agencies to write statutes and regulations in clear language that can be easily understood by non-lawyers and the public
  • Working with state and federal administrative agencies to incorporate best practices to ensure administrative justice

State access to justice commissions

One of the most effective ways to develop, expand, and institutionalize comprehensive, integrated state systems for the delivery of civil legal aid is through the establishment of state access to justice commissions.

Access to justice commissions have existed for a decade or more, including the Washington State Access to Justice Board, the California Access to Justice Commission, and Maine’s Justice Action Group. As of [2018?], 40 states have active access to justice commissions. New commissions are on the drawing boards in more states.

They are conceived as having a continuing existence, in contrast to a blue-ribbon body created to issue a report and then sunset. They have a broad charge to engage in ongoing assessment of the civil legal needs of people in the state and to develop, coordinate, and oversee initiatives to respond to those needs.

Access to Justice Commissions carry out a number of activities:

  • Funding for civil legal aid: Increasing state legislative funding (appropriations and legislatively enacted filing fees add-ons), funding from changes in court rules/statutes (e.g., pro hac vice fees and cy pres distributions) and private funding from foundations, the bar and the general public. Many states run public relations and public outreach campaigns as part of fund raising initiatives.
  • Developmental Activities: Undertaking state legal needs and economic impact studies, convening public forums across a state, developing strategic plans for access to justice and holding access to justice seminars and conferences on general and specific topics (e.g. law schools, technology).
  • Self-represented litigation: simplification of court processes and forms; developing court-based self-help centers; producing educational programs, handbooks and materials; changes in the Code of Judicial Conduct; increasing language access; and cultivating partnerships with public libraries as points of access to legal assistance. Best practices for administrative agencies, strategic plans and recommendations have also been developed to guide future endeavors.
  • Pro bono initiatives: implementation of Supreme Court recognition programs, mentorship and training programs, retiring and retired lawyer programs, specialized pro bono programs, regional committees, and rule and policy changes to support pro bono work.
  • Limited scope representation: formulating or amending rules of professional conduct or rules of procedure, and developing and providing educational resources.
  • Legal aid delivery initiatives: expanded uses of information technology, remote video conferencing, triage approaches, portal projects, legal incubator programs, disability access initiatives, addressing racial disparities, mediation and ADR initiatives, legal answers websites, court based vacillators/navigators and limited licenses for non-lawyers and legal technicians.
  • Law school and legal profession efforts: new law school initiatives, pro bono admission requirements for graduation, implicit bias training, poverty simulations, and proposals to add questions about access and poverty law to bar exams.

The ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives produced a report released in August 2018, entitled Access to Justice Commissions: Increasing Effectiveness Through Adequate Staffing and Funding by Mary Flynn. The report is a comprehensive review of the 40 Access to Justice Commissions, their funding, creation, structure, activities and staffing. The report finds that:

  • broad, active stakeholder involvement increasers the impact of access to justice commissions;
  • professional staff plays a key role with effective commissions; the Conferences of Chief Justices and individual justices have played a key role in expanding access to justice commissions;
  • the support of the legal aid community is extremely valuable for successful commissions; and
  • private philanthropy has strategically nurtured the expansion of commissions.

It also includes best practices recommendations including seeking out a diverse set of funding sources and have a minimum staffing level.

The ABA Resource Center also produced Access to Justice Commission Initiatives: Examples and Resources (17-page PDF) in August 2017.

Initiatives to enhance non-LSC Federal access to justice activity

DOJ Office for Access to Justice (2010-2018)

Starting in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice (ATJ) served as the primary office in the Executive Branch focused on legal services for low-income and vulnerable individuals. DOJ’s ATJ inititiative promoted civil legal aid and public defense. This DOJ initiative worked to help the justice system efficiently deliver outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, irrespective of wealth and status. ATJ’s staff worked within the Department of Justice, across federal agencies, and with state, local, and tribal justice system stakeholders to increase access to counsel and legal assistance, and to improve the justice delivery systems that serve people who are unable to afford lawyers.

During the first year of the Trump Administration, the initiative on Access to Justice (ATJ) at the Department of Justice continued, but its role was limited within the Department. The office was closed in April 2018. Under Attorney General Sessions, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy (OLP) assumed the principal policy and legislative responsibilities of ATJ, including staffing the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (LAIR) (see below).

ATJ organized a White House “Champions of Change” event in 2011 to honor and recognize the work of 16 leaders who dedicated their professional lives to closing the justice gap in America. In addition, working with the White House and the Office of the Vice President, ATJ helped launch the Access to Justice for Victims of Domestic Violence Project, an effort to create a pool of lawyers with expertise in providing comprehensive legal representation to domestic violence victims.

Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (LAIR)

LAIR includes 22 federal members. It works to raise awareness about the profound impact legal aid programs can have in advancing federal efforts to promote access to health and housing, education and employment, family stability and community well-being. The goal is to maximize federal program effectiveness by integrating legal aid providers as partners, grantees or sub-grantees in federal safety-net programs when doing so can improve outcomes. 

One of the most effective ongoing initiatives involves the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (LAIR) that was conceived of and staffed by ATJ. The LAIR, which includes 22 participating federal agencies, works to raise awareness about the profound impact legal aid programs can have in advancing federal efforts to promote access to health and housing, education and employment, family stability, and community well-being. The goal is to maximize federal program effectiveness by integrating legal aid providers as partners,grantees, or sub-grantees in federal safety-net programs when doing so can improve outcomes. Since 2012, LAIR has worked to inspire collaborations that increase access to justice and improve outcomes for vulnerable and underserved people.

On September 24, 2015, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum formally establishing the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable and explicitly expanding its mission to “advance relevant evidence-based research, data collection, and analysis of civil legal aid and indigent defense, and promulgate best practices.” Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power announced the Presidential Memorandum on the eve of the adoption of the United Nations’ historic 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Memorandum expands the number of participating agencies, urges these agencies to accelerate and deepen their commitment to legal aid, and directs them to assist the United States in the implementation of Goal 16 of the 2030 Agenda.

In November 2016, The Department of Justice issued to President Obama the first annual report of the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (WH-LAIR), Expanding Access to Justice, Strengthening Federal Programs.

Enhancing state access to justice commissions

In addition to LAIR and the development of a civil research agenda, ATJ led an effort to expand and raise the visibility of Access to Justice Commissions around the country. ATJ collaborated with the Office of Child Support at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to disseminate and support best practices with respect to access to legal services and self-help assistance for low-income individuals in child support proceedings.

Civil legal aid research agenda

ATJ promoted research on the Delivery of Civil Legal Aid by collaborating with the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, the Harvard Program on the Legal Profession, and the American Bar Foundation—in an effort to develop a broad research agenda and plan for a sustainable infrastructure to support the research.

On May 20-21, 2015, the ATJ and National Institute of Justice, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation, hosted a Civil Legal Aid Research Workshop. The workshop — a first of its kind — was designed to help create a civil legal aid research agenda and identify federal priorities on civil legal aid for the conveners and the WH-LAIR.

NLADA’s Civil Legal Aid Initiative

Since 2012, LAIR has worked to inspire collaborations that increase access to justice and improve outcomes for vulnerable and underserved people. NLADA’s Civil Legal Aid Initiative, with support from the Public Welfare Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, has undertaken work to complement the federal activity coming out of LAIR.  The Initiative seeks to demonstrate to federal agencies how civil legal aid can help meet program goals and improve delivery of services in areas such as health care, housing, and veterans’ affairs.

Justice in Government Project (JGP)

In 2017, Karen Lash became a Practitioner-in-Residence at the American University School of Public Affairs Justice Programs Office and developed the Justice in Government Project (JGP). Lash is the former Deputy Director of the DOJ Office for Access to Justice and Executive Director of the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (LAIR),

The goal of JGP is to develop state and local executive branch strategies for incorporating legal aid into government programs, policies and initiatives that serve low-income and underserved populations. For its first two years, JGP planned to work closely with an initial cohort of legal profession leaders (e.g., staff or board members of IOLTA Foundations, Access to Justice Commissions, state Attorney General offices) from Arizona, California, Mississippi and Wisconsin. JGP will formalize collaborations with state agencies responsible for increasing access to health care, housing, employment and education, and improving family stability and public safety.

This project aims to produce:

  • Sustainable infrastructure that supports and funds civil legal aid for its pilot states;
  • Online toolkit reinforced by training and technical assistance to support activities in other interested states;
  • New dollars for civil legal aid into the future; and
  • New and nontraditional allies for civil justice stakeholders.

For more information:

Justice for All project (state courts)

Resolution 5 (2015)

In 2015, the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) unanimously passed Resolution 5 (2-page PDF), Reaffirming the Commitment to Meaningful Access to Justice for All. Resolution 5 recognizes the significant advances in the Access to Justice (ATJ) field in the past decade and concludes with a call to action for achieving the aspirational goal of meaningful access to justice for all:

[. . .] the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators support the aspirational goal of 100 percent access to effective assistance for essential civil legal needs and urge their members to provide leadership in achieving that goal and to work with their Access to Justice Commission or other such entities to develop a strategic plan with realistic and measurable outcomes; and [. . .] the Conferences urge the National Center for State Courts and other national organizations to develop tools and provide assistance to states in achieving the goal of 100 percent access through a continuum of meaningful and appropriate services.

On August 3, 2016, the Justice for All Expert Working Group issued the Justice of All Strategic Planning Guidance (65-page PDF). It identifies the basic services which need to be available to all if 100% access is to be provided.

In November 2016, the National Conference of State Courts and the Public Welfare Foundation announced grant awards to seven states under the Justice for All project. The project is supported by the Public Welfare Foundation and housed at the National Center for State Courts. The grants support each state grantee in forming partnerships with all relevant stakeholders in the civil justice community and beyond to develop state assessments and strategic action plans in order to implement Resolution 5. The seven grants were to: Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York.

In April 2017 all of the JFA grantees completed their reporting for the first quarter. Each state made significant progress in attracting a wide cross section of participants in the process, and all are focused on completing their inventory assessment.

Resolution 3 (January 2018)

On January 31, 2018, the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) adopted Resolution 3, Expanding Meaningful Access to Justice for All (2-page PDF). It affirms Resolution 5, and further resolves:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Conference of Chief Justices encourages all states, territories, and the District of Columbia to:

  • Review the Justice for All project guidance materials and the lessons learned from the planning efforts in the seven states;
  • Undertake their own inventory assessment of the services and capabilities required to achieve meaningful access to justice for all;
  • Use the resulting assessment to identify access to justice gaps; and
  • Create an integrated and coordinated statewide strategic action plan to fill those gaps and initiate efforts to implement that plan; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Conference of Chief Justices urges its members to work with traditional and non-traditional access to justice stakeholders to establish and maintain a collaborative governance structure to coordinate the preparation of the inventory assessment, to conduct strategic action planning, and to design simple implmentation efforts to expand access to justice to realize 100 percent meaningful access to justice for all.

Additional funding support
In 2018, the project also announced additional funding support. The project is funded by the Public Welfare Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and Open Society Foundations.

For more information:

Justice Index

In 2014, the National Center for Access to Justice at Cardozo Law School (NCAJ) launched the Justice Index, (In 2016, NCAJ moved to Fordham Law School where it co-chairs a school Access to Justice Initiative with Dean Matthew Diller and former NYS Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman).

The Justice Index is a website that uses data, indicators, and indexing to rank the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., on their adoption of selected best policies and practices for access to justice. Its driving idea is that a responsible comparison of the access to justice policies established in the states will, in turn, promote a dialogue about those policies both within and between the states. This will in turn will prompt reform that expands access to justice. By making selected policy models highly visible, the Justice Index makes it easy to understand what is important in state justice systems, see which states are doing the best at it, and replicate the best policies.

The Justice Index ranks states in four sub-indexes comprised of multiple indicators, each weighted 1, 5 or 10 points, as follows:

  1. Attorney Access Index – ratio of civil legal aid attorneys per 10,000 poor
  2. Self-Represented Index – policies to assist self-represented litigants
  3. Language Access Index – policies to assist people with limited English proficiency
  4. Disability Access Index – policies to assist people with disabilities

The Justice Index also ranks each state in a Composite Index by according each state’s score in each sub-index a weight of 25% of the state’s composite score, and then comparing those composite scores.

The Justice Index contains 28 issue areas, 112 indicators, and 5,000 data points organized in four sub-index categories. Operating under NCAJ’s direction, teams of volunteer attorneys gathered data and also conducted a quality assurance review of data provided by courts, legal aid programs and other stakeholders.

For complete indicators and all data and rankings, please visit:

Selected additional information resources on ATJ

For reference, following are additional selected information resources on the history of access to justice in the US. This is not a complete or comprehensive list.

ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives

The ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives produced a new report released in August of 2018, entitled Access to Justice Commissions: Increasing Effectiveness Through Adequate Staffing and Funding by Mary Flynn, which is a comprehensive review of the 40 Access to Justice Commission, their funding, creation, structure, activities and staffing.

Fordham Law Review

In The A2J Summit Collection, NCAJ gathered and published in the Fordham Law Review On line a set of writings by access to justice activists describing the leading edge and future promise of the civil justice reform movement. The A2J Summit Collection was an outgrowth of a pathbreaking Fall 2018 national convening — the A2J Summit — that brought more than 85 activists and leaders together at Fordham Law School for a strategic reconsideration of the place, purpose, and importance of civil justice reform. The pieces in the A2J Summit Collection make the case for the crucial importance of a civil justice reform movement to address the national crisis in which people face the loss of their homes, their children, their savings, their physical and emotional well-being, even their liberty, because of challenges posed by the civil justice system. NCAJ’s executive director (in the Foreword to the Collection), and several authors in their respective pieces, urge consideration of the civil justice reform movement as a next step in the criminal justice reform movement. The authors and their subjects are:

Building the Access to Justice Movement by David Udell (PDF)

A Perspective from the Judiciary on Access to Justice by Jonathan Lippman (PDF)

“What Do We Want!”? by Rebecca L. Sandefur (PDF)

Striking a Match, Not a Pose, for Access to Justice by Gillian K. Hadfield (PDF)

Access to Legal Help is a Human Service by Jo-Ann Wallace (PDF)

Don’t Go It Alone by Ariel Simon and Sandra Ambrozy (PDF)

Self-Representation is Becoming the Norm and Driving Reform by Katherine Alteneder (PDF)

Integrating the Access to Justice Movement by Lauren Sudeall (PDF)

Building a Movement: The Lessons of Fines and Fees by Lisa Foster (PDF)

A National Movement for Access to Justice Must Be Holistic by Justine Olderman and Runa Rajagopal (PDF)

The Legal Empowerment Movement and its Implications by Peter Chapman (PDF)

A Few Interventions and Offerings from Five Movement Lawyers to the Access to Justice Movement by Jennifer Ching, Thomas B. Harvey, Meena Jagannath, Purvi Shah, and Blake Strode (PDF)

The Role of Data in Organizing an Access to Justice Movement by James Gamble and Amy Widman (PDF)

All Rise for Civil Justice by Martha Bergmark (PDF)

Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

A major new publication “Access to Justice,” the Winter 2019 issue of Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is a multidisciplinary examination of this crisis, from the challenges of providing quality legal assistance to more people, to the social and economic costs of an often unresponsive legal system, to the opportunities for improvement offered by new technologies, professional innovations, and fresh ways of thinking about the crisis. Guest editors were:

  • Lincoln Caplan (journalist and author; Yale Law School)
  • Lance Liebman (Columbia Law School; Academy Member), and
  • Rebecca L. Sandefur (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; American Bar Foundation; 2018 MacArthur Fellow)

This issue of Dædalus is part of a larger, ongoing effort of the American Academy to gather information about the national need for improved legal access, study innovations piloted around the country to fill this need, and advance a set of clear, national recommendations for closing the justice gap — between supply and demand for services provided by lawyers and other problem-solvers. “Access to Justice” features the following essays:

John G. Levi (Legal Services Corporation; Sidley Austin; Academy Member) & David M. Rubenstein (The Carlyle Group; Academy Member)

How Rising Income Inequality Threatens Access to the Legal System
Robert H. Frank (Cornell University)

The Invisible Justice Problem
Lincoln Caplan (journalist and author; Yale Law School)

Reclaiming the Role of Lawyers as Community Connectors
David F. Levi (Duke University School of Law; Academy Member), Dana Remus (legal scholar) & Abigail Frisch (Duke Law Journal)

More Markets, More Justice
Gillian K. Hadfield (University of Toronto; University of California, Berkeley; OpenAI)

Access to What?
Rebecca L. Sandefur (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; American Bar Foundation; MacArthur Fellow)

The Right to Civil Counsel
Tonya L. Brito (University of Wisconsin Law School)

The New Legal Empiricism & Its Application to Access-to-Justice Inquiries
D. James Greiner (Harvard Law School)

The Public’s Unmet Need for Legal Services & What Law Schools Can Do about It
Andrew M. Perlman (Suffolk University Law School)

Access to Power
Sameer Ashar (UCLA School of Law) & Annie Lai (University of California, Irvine School of Law)

The Center on Children and Families
Shani M. King (University of Florida Levin College of Law)

Techno-Optimism & Access to the Legal System
Tanina Rostain (Georgetown University Law Center)

Marketing Legal Assistance
Elizabeth Chambliss (University of South Carolina School of Law)

Community Law Practice
Luz E. Herrera (Texas A&M University School of Law)

The Role of the Legal Services Corporation in Improving Access to Justice
James J. Sandman (Legal Services Corporation)

Participatory Design for Innovation in Access to Justice
Margaret Hagan (Stanford Law School)

Simplified Courts Can’t Solve Inequality
Colleen F. Shanahan (Columbia Law School) & Anna E. Carpenter (The University of Tulsa College of Law)

Corporate Support for Legal Services
Jo-Ann Wallace (National Legal Aid and Defender Association)

Justice & the Capability to Function in Society
Pascoe Pleasence (University College London) & Nigel J. Balmer (University College London)

Why Big Business Should Support Legal Aid
Kenneth C. Frazier (Merck & Co.; Academy Member)

Executive Branch Support for Civil Legal Aid
Karen A. Lash (American University)

Why Judges Support Civil Legal Aid
Fern A. Fisher (Maurice A. Deanne School of Law at Hofstra University)

Lawyers, the Legal Profession & Access to Justice in the United States: A Brief History
Robert W. Gordon (Stanford Law School; Yale Law School)

The Twilight Zone
Nathan L. Hecht (Supreme Court of Texas)