Every year, millions of Americans who need help with their legal problems find out that there is no such help on offer. Some are left to go it alone in court, where they may stand little chance against a better-equipped adversary. Some lose their homes, their savings and their children in cases they might have won with the right kind of help. Others avoid the legal system altogether, in situations where it could help vindicate their rights or win reparation for abuse.

On June 8, 2021, NCAJ published a new report that asks how new models of legal services delivery-- by people other than lawyers-- might help bridge the access to justice gap. The report, which you can find here, draws on interviews with more than 60 people who have a sharp, firsthand perspective on America’s access to justice crisis and the kind of change they think is needed. None of them are lawyers. Most work directly, every day, with people who suffer for want of legal help. We've collected and put forward some of the most vital, inspiring and provocative perspectives that emerged from those interviews.

One key finding is that the policy debates around these ideas need to be much more inclusive than they generally are. Faced with the vast scale of unmet legal need, several US states are finally moving to embrace alternative models of legal services delivery. They are leading the way forward with real, concrete steps to improve access to legal services. Unfortunately, most of these reform efforts have suffered from a defect that sharply limits their potential. In state after state, debates around legal services reform have been devoid of non-lawyer perspectives.

Fortunately, there is an entire universe of people who encounter unmet legal needs every day and have keen perspectives on their urgency, as well as the best ways to confront them. They are not lawyers. They are librarians, legal document assistants, social workers, community organizers, tenant advocates, and others. Those professionals, community leaders and activists often have a sharp perspective on the kind of change states should embrace to empower their residents to get the right kind of help.

Our report draws a wealth of fresh new thinking about reform from these interviews. In so doing, it also shows why it's so essential for policy debates around these issues to include these perspectives at center stage.

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Watch the Videos from NCAJ's Access to Justice Solutions Symposium of February 9, 2024

On February 9th, 2024, more than 500 peopled gathered or tuned in via stream to the AtJ Solutions Symposium. The sessions were videotaped that day. If you'd like to re-see what you saw, or see the sessions for the first time, you can do so at the links, below. Take a look, consider the progress of the access to justice movement, and join in the work to increase access to justice in America.

Update: View the Video from Webinar Introducing NCAJ's New Consumer Debt Litigation Index and Two Additional New Tools for Increasing Fairness in Consumer Debt Litigation

Update: View the Webinar (link below) from March 14, 2024, when NCAJ joined the Center for Public Health Law Research of Temple University Beasley School of Law and the National Consumer Law Center for NCLC's national webinar introducing these organizations' three new tools for increasing fairness in consumer debt litigation.

New “Consumer Debt Litigation Index” Ranks States on Best Policies for Access to Justice

The National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ) at Fordham Law School today announced the release of the Consumer Debt Litigation Index, an on-line resource that demonstrates that every U.S. state and the District of Columbia lack essential legal standards to protect consumers from wrongful, abusive debt collection tactics that can lead to homelessness, family breakup, overwhelming stress and other devastating consequences for families and individuals. There are signs of progress and many states are trying to improve, but every state has a long way to go.