Posted by: Ray Brescia | March 27, 2018

Global Insights on Access to Justice

 

Recently, the World Justice Project (WJP) released its first ever report on civil justice issues across the world: Global Insights on Access to Justice.  In the report, the WJP assesses the extent to which survey respondents in  45 countries resolve (or do not resolve) their civil legal disputes.  It also surveyed the types of civil legal problems people face, asked to whom  such respondents turn when they have such problems, and attempted to learn whether they end up resolving them. Overall, the report found that roughly half of the respondents had faced some civil legal problem in the last two years; such legal problems caused them harm in some way (in terms of a loss of a job, illness, displacement, or something else);  and many respondents simply had not resolved such problems.  In the United States, one of the countries surveyed, the numbers are striking.  For Americans, nearly half of those surveyed, 48%, had experienced a legal problem in the last two years, and 77% of those did not turn to an authority or third party like a lawyer to help them resolve it.  Even more troubling, 13% of respondents reported that these legal disputes ended in violence by one party.  The leading legal problem that respondents faced was housing, at 27%, with consumer problems coming in second at 22%.  Americans’ struggle with legal problems reveals the ever-present need for greater access to justice at a time when some question the value and importance of legal training.  We need to ensure that every American has access to legal assistance that can help them resolve their legal problems in a fair and peaceful way.  Law schools should have this access-to-justice issue at the heart of their missions, an issue I explore in more depth here.


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