American Academy of Arts & Sciences Publishes Civil Justice for All Report

A new report from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences urges making access to civil justice a priority and offers recommendations to close the civil justice gap. The report, which was launched on 24 September 2020, is part of an extensive, multi-year project to examine the extent and consequences of the inability of Americans to access legal help for civil justice matters.

The newly published Civil Justice for All report offers seven recommendations:

  1. Significant financial and human resources investments to close the civil justice gap
  2. More lawyers who work to address the needs of low-income earners
  3. More lawyers who offer pro bono and other volunteer assistance
  4. Open legal marketplaces to allow non-lawyers to help resolve civil justice problems
  5. More collaboration between legal service providers and professionals in other sectors to address the non-legal dimensions of problems
  6. Make legal processes, legal information, forms and other resources easier for the public to understand and access
  7. Create a central body to coordinate and promote the recommendations above and to gather much-needed civil justice data

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront many of the weaknesses in American civil society. It has also brought new challenges and worsened the civil justice gap. A major initiative to ensure access to civil justice is urgently needed to help address this growing problem.

Civil Justice for All: A Report and Recommendations from the Making Justice Accessible Initiative is available online here: https://www.amacad.org/publication/civil-justice-for-all.

New Book Examines What is Working and Not Working to Improve Access to Civil and Family Justice

The Justice Crisis: The Cost and Value of Accessing Law edited by Trevor C.W. Farrow and Lesley A. Jacobs is a newly published book that provides an in-depth look at what is working and not working to improve access to civil and family justice in Canada.

The Justice Crisis uses new empirical research to explore the value associated with the provision of an effective justice system and the costs – individual and collective – of not providing accessible justice. The national and international importance of and the need for this kind of research is widely acknowledged.

Contributors to The Justice Crisis: The Cost and Value of Accessing Law include: Carolyn Carter, Thomas A. Cromwell, Ab Currie, Matthew Dylag, Trevor C.W. Farrow, Heather Heavin, Lesley A. Jacobs, Devon Kapoor, Michaela Keet, Jennifer Koshan, Herbert M. Kritzer, Moktar Lamari, Marylène Leduc, M. Jerry McHale, Lisa Moore, Janet Mosher, Pierre Noreau, Mitchell Perlmutter, Catherine Piché, Noel Semple, Lorne Sossin, Michael Trebilcock, Wanda Wiegers and David Wiseman.

The book’s foreword is written by The Honourable Thomas A. Cromwell, CC.

The Justice Crisis: The Cost and Value of Accessing Law is part of the 7-year Cost of Justice project led by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice. The Cost of Justice project was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

The Justice Crisis: The Cost and Value of Accessing Law was published by UBC Press and is available here: www.ubcpress.ca/the-justice-crisis.

View the press release for The Justice Crisis: The Cost and Value of Accessing Law online here: https://news.yorku.ca/2020/09/02/new-evidence-on-the-justice-crisis-making-the-case-for-reform/.

New Report Highlights Importance of Community-Based Access to Justice

Community Justice Help: Advancing Community-Based Access to Justice” is a discussion paper by Julie Matthews (Executive Director of Community Legal Education Ontario) and Professor David Wiseman (University of Ottawa Faculty of Law) that explores the role of community justice workers in improving access to justice. The paper also discusses support mechanisms and tools that could further advance the contributions of community justice helpers.

“Community Justice Help: Advancing Community-Based Access to Justice” offers a framework that describes important elements of good quality community justice help. These include:

  • Community justice helpers have the knowledge, skills and experience they need;
  • Community justice helpers work within a not-for-profit organization and an ethical infrastructure; and,
  • Community justice helpers provide holistic support to meet clients’ multi-dimensional needs.

The framework is intended to support the recognition of the following, important elements for improving community-based access to justice:

  • That community justice help is an important and valid component of the broader ecosystem of access to justice services
  • That all components of the ecosystem must be adequately supported through public funding and other means; and
  • That community justice help already aligns with the regulatory framework overseen by the LSO for the practice of law and the provision of legal services.

The Community Justice Help paper is informed by a literature review, discussions with members of the justice, not-for-profit and academic communities, and interviews with key staff working in community-based organizations.

“Community Justice Help: Advancing Community-Based Access to Justice”, a discussion paper by Julie Matthews and David Wiseman is available online here: https://cleoconnect.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Community-Justice-Help-Advancing-Community-Based-Access-to-Justice_discussion-paper-July-2020.pdf.

HiiL Report Outlines New Ways Of Thinking About How To Fund Justice

“Charging for Justice” is a new report that explores different ways of thinking about how to fund justice. The report examines how money comes into the justice sector and discusses ways to gain better access to the resources that are necessary to move the dial on equal access to justice for all (UN SDG 16.3).

Millions of people around the world face obstacles to resolve their legal problems, lack necessary protections through the law and are otherwise in unsafe situations that they find difficult to extricate themselves from. The “Charging for Justice” report urges a change in thinking about how to fund justice that is supported by research that demonstrates the far-reaching economic, social, environmental and health benefits of accessible, effective, efficient and well-funded justice services and programs.

Charging for Justice – SDG 16.3 Trend Report 2020 was published by The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) and is available online here: https://www.hiil.org/projects/charging-for-justice/.

New Report Presents Findings from Largest Ever Legal Needs Survey in England and Wales

Findings from the largest ever legal needs survey to be carried out in England and Wales are now available in the recently published “Legal Needs of Individuals in England and Wales” report. A summary report has also been released. Data in the reports are based on a survey of over 28,000 people in England and Wales in 2019. This representative population sample covers more than 30 different legal issues. This is also the first legal needs study in England and Wales to apply Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidance for the development of the survey.

This legal needs survey was commissioned by the Law Society and the Legal Services Board. The summary report and full report can be accessed online here: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/research-trends/legal-needs-of-individuals-in-england-and-wales-report/.

Investing In Justice Saves More Money Than It Costs – New CFCJ Report

The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) has published a major report that examines the return on investment in access to justice in several regions, including North America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Australia and Asia. The report concludes that, “across a diversity of justice programs, services and mechanisms around the world, spending on justice results in significant economic and other benefits that generally significantly exceed the value of the investment.” In most cases, the rate of return on investment in justice services and programs is between CAD $9 and $16 for every CAD $1 that is spent.

This new report is one of ten international background reports commissioned by the Task Force on Justice to help inform their efforts towards equal access to justice for all by 2030 (UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.3).

Investing in Justice – A Literature Review in Support of the Case for Improved Access is available for download on the CFCJ website here: https://cfcj-fcjc.org/wp-content/uploads/Investing-in-Justice-A-Literature-Review-in-Support-of-the-Case-for-Improved-Access-by-Lisa-Moore-and-Trevor-C-W-Farrow.pdf.

New Inventory of Digital Tools To Help Canadian Public Address Their Legal Needs

A new inventory containing information on 88 legal digital tools aims to offer the Canadian public a way to conveniently access information on digital tools to address their legal needs. The inventory, which is currently in draft form, includes information from various areas of law including family, criminal, employment, and immigration. For each tool included in the inventory, information is provided on the cost (including if the tool is free to use), the intended user of the tool, the function, the type of law that it relates to and the developer of the tool. A brief description is also provided for each tool.

The Inventory of Digital Tools was created by Professor Amy Salyzyn (University of Ottawa) and JD students, William Burke and Angela Lee. The development of this inventory builds on previous research by Professors Jena McGill, Suzanne Bouclin, and Amy Salyzyn on the potential use of mobile and web-based applications to improve access to justice. For more information on the Inventory of Digital Tools or to provide feedback, visit the following webpage: https://techlaw.uottawa.ca/direct-public-legal-digital-tools-canada.

Canadian Forum on Civil Justice Launches Project to Measure Long-Term Impacts of Access to Legal Help

The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) has announced the launch of the first phase of a project aimed at “Measuring the Impacts of Legal Service Interventions”. This new project, which is funded by the Law Foundation of Ontario (LFO), will focus on the development of a longitudinal impact study that assesses the effectiveness of different types of legal service interventions on the outcome of particular types of legal disputes. The study will also seek to measure the impacts on the long-term health of clients, while providing necessary insights into the costs and benefits of such interventions.

Having a better and more accurate understanding of how different types of legal interventions impact the outcome of a dispute can help to provide the public with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about how to deal with their legal problem(s) and potentially improves their legal capabilities. It can help governments, policy makers and funders to understand which justice pathways and tools show the most promise in particular scenarios, and this type of information can also assist legal service providers with decisions around how to allocate budgets and scale different services.

The press release for this newly launched Law Foundation of Ontario funded project can be accessed here: http://cfcj-fcjc.org/wp-content/uploads/Measuring-the-Impact-of-Legal-Service-Interventions-CFCJ-LFO-Press-Release.pdf.

UVic’s Access to Justice Centre for Excellence Publishes New Reports that Explore Key Learnings for Enhanced Empirical Justice Research

What can the province of British Columbia learn from initiatives in other jurisdictions about enhancing justice data quality and expanding empirical research, evaluation and measurement? The “Learning from Justice Metrics Models in Other Jurisdictions” report produced by Tim Roberts and Associates Consulting for the University of Victoria Access to Justice Centre for Excellence (UVic ACE) looks at initiatives that offer insight on conducting empirical justice research. The report includes findings from Australia, the United States, the Netherlands, the U.K., and Canada on how different initiatives have enhanced data quality, driven data sharing, and facilitated an expanded research and evaluation agenda. “Learning from Justice Metrics Models in Other Jurisdictions” is available on the UVic ACE website here: https://ajrndotco.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/2a1cb-acejusticemetricsmodelsinotherjurisdictions-feb2019.pdf.


UVic ACE’s “A Supreme Lack of Information” report published in March, 2019 explores the lack of information available on civil cases initiated in B.C.’s Supreme Court. This study is a follow up to a 2015 study published by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) that found significant information gaps in court records in B.C.’s Supreme Court. The report identifies the purpose of this new study by UVic ACE as:

  • To identify the challenges encountered in conducting the CFCJ ‘Attrition Study’, and explore their significance
  • Consider what changes would need to be made to data collection processes in the B.C. Supreme Court in order to better answer the original study’s questions and meet the research objectives, and to provide a high level plan for such changes, and
  • Identify any legal, financial or administrative problems or complications that would be encountered in making such changes to the system

The “A Supreme Lack of Information” study was carried out by Tim Roberts and Associates Consulting for UVic ACE. It is available on the UVic ACE website here: https://ajrndotco.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/48fa3-attritionfollow-upreport-feb2019.pdf.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences Publishes Issue on Access to Justice Crisis

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ quarterly journal, Dædalus, recently dedicated an entire issue to America’s access to justice crisis. The issue, which is available online for free, was edited by Lincoln Caplan, Lance Malcolm Liebman, and Rebecca L. Sandefur. This first-of-its-kind open access issue on access to justice by the well-known U.S. journal includes twenty-four essays by researchers, professors, access to justice advocates and others. The essays examine a range of civil legal services issues being faced by low-income Americans, various barriers to creating a responsive justice system, and opportunities for improving access to justice through technology, innovation and new approaches. The Dædalus issue on access to justice is available here: https://www.amacad.org/daedalus/access-to-justice.