Justice Denise Johnson sits on the Vermont Supreme Court and Chairs the state Access to Justice Coalition.
She has written a fine article in the Vermont Bar Journal, about that Coalition’s admirable and comprehensive activities. Well worth a read for showing how such a group can combine a number of different strategies.
That alone would earn a mention on this blog.
But what hits the jackpot is the Jane Austen reference that starts the article:
To paraphrase Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a person with a legal problem must be in want of a lawyer.
Naturally this earns a footnote:
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice 1 (1813) (“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”).
As to substance, the Justice’s conclusion is particulalry apposite:
The ultimate goal, in my view, is to develop a mechanism whereby we are able to identify what cases for low-income people must absolutely have a lawyer to obtain access to justice, and try to provide that lawyer free of charge. For others, we will have to help them help themselves, through the courts or LawLine or other advice clinics. Ensuring a free lawyer for cases that really need one may be “pie in the sky” for several years to come, but at the very least, we can work on developing a comprehensive delivery system in this state that does not depend on a single kind of entity, like legal aid programs, to deliver service everywhere. We can use pro se assistance, pro bono services, low bono programs, advice clinics, and so on to try to meet need.