Access Justice has discussed this issue time and time again, because it is one of paramount importance, that of Justice and Access to Affordable Legal Services. Most individuals cannot afford the outlandish rates of legal services today; consequently, low-income Americans are left without any reprieve or solutions in a variety of legal arenas. Unless these individuals are in a criminal case (or they’re one of the few that qualifies and is accepted for legal aid work), they do not have access to legal services, and justice is not met. Many cases AJ comes across, in the civil arena, where individual needs are not being met, include: immigration; land-lord tenant disputes; as well as divorce, custody and support cases. AJ hopes to address this underserved population, bridging the justice gap and providing affordable, low bono legal services to low to moderate income individuals and families.
While Access Justice hopes to at least partially bridge the justice gap by providing such services, what can a non-lawyer do in addressing this pervasive issue?
In a NY Times Op Ep article, Addressing the Justice Gap, it’s noted that:
State bar associations could help address these needs by requiring lawyers to report their pro bono service — such disclosure would likely increase many lawyers’ service to the recommended 3 percent to 5 percent of their paid work. Another step is to allow nonlawyers into the mix. The American Bar Association has insisted that only lawyers can provide legal services, but there are many things nonlawyers should be able to handle, like processing uncontested divorces.
Legal education must also change. The Carnegie foundation recommends that all law students be given experience in public advocacy, of which providing legal services is one kind. At the same time, law schools should expand loan forgiveness programs for legal services lawyers. A few have such programs, but most schools do not — and not enough schools view tuition as a source to help support future legal-services lawyers.
The justice gap is widening. Government, law schools and the profession need to work together to redesign and fortify the grossly deficient legal services system.
For more information about Access Justice, to make employment and volunteer inquiries, or to donate, please call us at (612)879-8092, email us at Info@AccessJustice.Net or Admin@AccessJustice.net, or visit our website www.AccessJustice.Net. Thank you for all of your generous support!