Access to Justice Issues Coming to a Head & a Broader Perspective

by Kristen Pavón

As if we needed more confirmation that there is an access to justice crisis in our nation, there seems to be more press coverage about the subject than ever.

I wonder if because the journalists are taking up the issue so vehemently (presumably because the public cares about the issue, or at least should care), will the lawmakers follow suit — will they hear us?

Today, this story ran in New York — For More and More Low-Income New Yorkers, Civil Legal Services Are Just Out of Reach.

Last week, out of Baltimore– At 100th anniversary, Md. Legal Aid seeing record caseload.

In Nebraska — More Nebraskans need legal aid services

In Phoenix — Lawyers say increased use of do-it-yourself legal services risky

From the New York Times– Legal Assistance in Civil Cases Under Growing Threat

From Center of Public Integrity — HUD cuts to devastate mortgage counseling agencies across nation

From HuffPost — Could More Public-Interest Lawyers in D.C. Help Prevent Domestic Tragedies?

You get my point. I only hope that some viable solutions are found created.

Looking more broadly, a similar public debate about the desperate need for legal aid funding and access-to-justice solutions is stirring in the U.K., Ireland, Lebanon, Laos and other countries.

Here are few of the recent headlines from around the world:

U.K. — Will legal aid changes limit access to justice?Legal aid threatened by coalition plans

Lebanon — Lack of state-funded legal aid hampers justice

Laos — Laos needs help developing legal aid

Ghana — Legal Aid Scheme urged to seek for further support

Tanzania — CJ identifies flaws in Constitution

Interesting.

So, here are a couple of questions I have… Can we look abroad for solutions to our access to justice crisis? How, if at all, does our access to justice crisis affect other countries’ justice issues?

Thoughts?

2 Comments »

  1. LEP said,

    October 1, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Looking abroad is a good idea. The UN and many large international development organizations (World Bank, Ford Foundation) have been supporting Legal Empowerment of the Poor (LEP) activities. LEP is not the silver bullet, but it is a shot that has yet to be fired in the United States. Community based paralegals and low-cost, preemptive legal interventions can reduce dependency on expensive lawyer-driven processes down the line. Look for an article on this topic in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law.

  2. PSLawNet said,

    October 3, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Thanks for reading our blog & for the great insight! LEP sounds like an interesting and viable effort. Would you mind sending JGSPL article to kpavon@nalp.org when it comes out?

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