As I’ve been writing up a paper on new legal tools & an agenda for access to justice innovation — I keep coming back to the same point.
To really address the access problem, we should be focusing on scalable, modular tools. They could be in the form of software & other tech — or they could take other forms: new roles, new organizations, new workshops, new services, new designs of forms & pamphlets.
But the basic point is the same: we don’t just need more lawyers (though this is certainly needed too), we need to be investing on ways to help people get informed about legal processes & give them tools to navigate them. Even if we (as lawyers) would prefer people to only use lawyers to address their legal problems, this is not what most people want and they will try the DIY route. We should be building the tools that allow for more responsible & competent self-representation.
Margaret, I’m guessing you know this already, but do check out Richard Zorza’s blog and work. He did a nice joint authored strategy paper published as a journal special somewhere.
Lets make sure we define as access to justice as including all venues where justice/injustice is carried out–and not just as access to court based services or in court decisions. Access to justice needs to happen across the board and should include other agencies/venues that make decisions about people’s lives, income, children, housing, health care, privacy, etc. and not just courts. For example, unemployment compensation forums, public benefit/welfare offices, Social Security, public housing authority, private landlords, employers, managed care organizations, insurance companies and claims adjustors, etc.