The White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (WH-LAIR) has released their first annual report, entitled “Expanding Access to Justice, Strengthening Federal Programs”. The report exemplifies the ability and utility of including civil legal aid as one of the tools used by agencies, legal aid service providers, the U.S. Department of Justice and others to affect change in communities and for vulnerable peoples.
The following related publications are available online:
Expanding Access to Justice, Strengthening Federal Programs Report: https://www.justice.gov/atj/page/file/913981/download
White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable Issues First Annual Report to the President Press Release: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/white-house-legal-aid-interagency-roundtable-issues-first-annual-report-president
Fact Sheet: https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/914066/download
Blog Post: WH-LAIR Designated Co-Chairs Announce First Annual Report to the President
In 2015, British Labour member of the House of Lords, Lord Willy Bach was tasked by several leading members of the United Kingdom’s Labour Party with conducting a review of the legal aid system. In response, Lord Bach created a commission with the larger goal of carrying out a review of access to justice in England and Wales. The first report on the Bach Commission’s findings was published in November, 2016 and is available here: http://www.fabians.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Access-to-Justice_final_web.pdf
The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) has released several new publications from their Cost of Justice research project, which examines the cumulative social and economic costs associated with everyday legal problems. Stemming from this project are the following recent publications:
1) “The Everyday Legal Problems and the Costs of Justice in Canada: Overview Report”
Gathering data from over 3,000 survey respondents, the Overview Report, available on the CFCJ website here, looks at the public’s experience with the justice system and the various costs (ex: monetary, physical and emotional) that it imposes.
2) “Design And Conduct of the Cost of Justice Survey”
This publication sets out the specific methodology used by the CFCJ research team to collate the survey data. The method of sampling, data collection, and data processing are discussed at length here.
3) “Everyday Legal Problems and Cost of Justice: Survey”
The Cost of Justice Survey was structured to determine the number of respondents who had experienced 84 specific legal problems. The 84 problems were grouped into 17 types, with a section of the survey being devoted to each type. The Survey can be accessed here.
4) “Everyday Legal Problems and the Cost of Justice in Canada: Fact Sheet”
This (updated and revised) Fact Sheet summarizes some of the key findings arising out of the Overview Report. The Fact Sheet can be accessed here.
The US-based Self-Represented Litigation Network (SRLN) website now includes a Canadian Access to Justice Research page.
In the SRLN brief that discusses this recent website addition, there are links to several recent Canadian access to justice research papers, resources and other publications.
Read the SRLN brief in full here.
There is a new study from the UK entitled: “Understanding the Legal Problems of Renters”. This report by Pascoe Pleasence, Nigel Balmer and Catrina Devnir is available here: http://www.thelegaleducationfoundation.org/report/understanding-the-legal-problems-of-renters . It is part of a broader study on “How People Understand and Interact with the Law”.
The webpage highlights the following key findings of the study:
- The latest figures show that over a third of all households in England and Wales were rented, which makes the ability of renters to resolve housing-related legal problems a major issue for society.
- Few renters realized that their housing difficulty was a legal problem, nearly half (47 per cent) put it down to bad luck.
- The renters most likely to experience housing-related legal problems are the young, single parents, and unmarried couples with children.
- Legal problems with rented housing take a long time to resolve: half lasted more than a year; a quarter were still unresolved after two years.
- Renters are more likely than those living in other types of accommodation to have higher levels of non-housing-related legal problems – such as with domestic violence, divorce, welfare benefits and personal injury.
- Those renting privately (rather than in the public sector) were the most likely to have non-housing-related legal problems; the least likely were those who owned their homes outright.
It is noted on the webpage that “people living in rented accommodation are twice as likely to experience some kinds of non-housing-related legal problems as those living in other types of housing”.
Additional research and reports by the Legal Education Foundation are available here: http://www.thelegaleducationfoundation.org/research.
Kathryn E. Thomson, PhD Candidate, UVic (Law), along with several AJRN listserv subscribers, have indicated publications that they would include on their “Access to Justice Top Ten Must-Read” list. There is a lot of valuable research and commentary worth revisiting or, for those of you who are new to the topic, discovering for the first time. Here are the recommendations:
- Genn, Hazel. Paths to Justice: What People Do and Think About Going to Law (Portland, Ore: Hart Publishing, 1999).
- Cromwell, Thomas A. “Access to Justice: Towards a Collaborative and Strategic Approach” (2012) 63 U.N.B.L.J. 38.
- Friedman, Lawrence M. “Access to Justice: Social and Historical Context” in Mauro Cappelletti and John Weiser (ed) The Florence Access-to-Justice Project (Milan: Doti.A.Giuffe Editore, 1978) Vol II, Book I.
- Macfarlane, Julie. “The National Self-Represented Litigants Project: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants” (Kingsville, Ontario: Self-Published Report, April 2013).
- Reports for the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, February 12, 2013. Online: Canadian Forum on Civil Justice: http://www.cfcj-fcjc.org/action-committee
- Wexler, Stephen. “Practicing Law for Poor People” (1970) 79(5) The Yale Law Journal
- Currie, Ab. The Legal Problems of Everyday Life: The Nature, Extent and Consequences of Justiciable Problems Experienced by Canadians (Ottawa: Department of Justice Canada, 2007)
- Hadfield, Gillian. “Higher Demand, Lower Supply? A comparative assessment of the legal resource landscape for ordinary Americans” (Feb. 2010) Fordham Urban Law Journal
- Australian Government – Productivity Committee – Access to Justice Arrangements (2014): http://www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/completed/access-justice/report
- McEown, Carol. “Civil Legal Needs Research Report” (Report prepared for the Law Foundation of BC March 2009, 2d ed) online: Law Foundation of British Columbia: http://www.lawfoundationbc.org/wp-content/uploads/Civil-Legal-Needs-Research-FINAL.pdf
- Brewin, Alison & Stephens, Lindsay. Legal Aid Denied (2004): http://www.westcoastleaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2004-REPORT-Legal-Aid-Denied-Women-and-the-Cuts-to-Legal-Services-in-BC.pdf
- Brewin, Alison & Govender, Kasari. Rights-Based Legal Aid (2010): http://www.westcoastleaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2010-REPORT-Rights-Based-Legal-Aid-Rebuilding-BCs-Broken-System.pdf
- Track, Laura, (in collaboration with Shahnaz Rahman and Kasari Govender. Putting Justice Back on the Map (2014): http://www.westcoastleaf.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2014-REPORT-Putting-Justice-Back-on-the-Map.pdf
- CBA Access to Justice Committee. Reaching equal justice report: an invitation to envision and act (2013): http://www.cba.org/CBA/equaljustice/secure_pdf/EqualJusticeFinalReport-eng.pdf
- Roderick MacDonald’s work on access to justice in Canada – a list of his words can be found here: http://people.mcgill.ca/files/roderick.macdonald/macdonald-pubs.pdf
- Cohl, Karen & Thomson, George. “Connecting Across Language and Distance: Linguistic and Rural Access to Legal Information and Services” (2008): http://www.lawfoundation.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/The-Connecting-Report.pdf
- CLEO’s Centre for Research and Innovation host a research database through the PLE Learning Exchange website. The database is an annotated bibliography of research on public legal education and information (PLEI) issues from Canada and other jurisdictions, and also contains some papers on A2J generally where PLEI is referenced: http://www.plelearningexchange.ca/research/research-database/
- Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters. “Access to Civil & Family Justice: A Roadmap for Change” (2013): http://www.cfcj-fcjc.org/sites/default/files/docs/2013/AC_Report_English_Final.pdf
- The National Self-Represented Litigants Project blog by Professor Julie Macfarlane houses many A2J articles: http://representingyourselfcanada.com/
Please note that this list isn’t exhaustive and additional suggestions are welcome. What publications would you include on your “Top Ten” list?
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “AJRN subscribe” in the subject line to join the conversation taking place on the listserv!
Dramatic civil legal aid cuts in the UK in 2012 and corresponding effects to the justice system has put access to justice on the radar of future voters. This article posted on LeftFootForward, calls for the Labour Party to make access to justice a campaign priority.