What We Know and Need to Know about the State of “Access to Justice” Research

In the U.S., legal researchers, unlike medical professionals, do not have the benefit of drawing funds from a federal agency like the National Institute of Health, which provides more than $30B in grants annually to medical researchers. As such, systemic efforts to collect data about the health of legal systems have been lacking.

There has been somewhat of a renaissance in access to justice research in recent years, which Elizabeth Chambliss, Renee Newman Knake and Robert L. Nelson explore in their paper entitled, “Introduction: What We Know and Need to Know About the State of ‘Access to Justice’ Research”.

At the forefront of this access to justice renaissance there has been a collection of 16 seminal White Papers published through the American Bar Association’s Commission on the Future of Legal Services. According to Chambliss et al, the collection has two primary goals:

  1.  To inform the Commission and its audience about the facts on the ground by presenting the most recent research on issues of relevance to the Commission
  2. To promote the development of shared conversations among academic researchers, legal services providers, and legal services regulators

To use the words of Chambliss et al, “taken together, these sixteen White Papers offer a rich, empirically grounded survey of ‘what we know and need to know’ about the future of legal services.”

For information about the various White Paper topics and themes as well as other access to justice initiatives, view the Report .

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