I am happy to announce that Management Information Exchange Journal has now published an article by me aimed particularly at a legal aid audience on the implications for Legal Aid of the emerging consensus on access to justice. It is now posted on my website here. This new article is based on a longer one published earlier in the year in Judicature. The link to that first article is here: Emerging Consensus on Access to Justice.
Since the new article was adapted from the Judicature version after the Turner decision came down, the new article reflects the additional leverage given access arguments by that decision, as well as a greater focus on Legal Aid issues.
To give a flavor of the piece, here are two extracts. First the introduction:
An emerging consensus about how to solve the access to justice problem is laying the groundwork for dramatic progress in the next few years. The four key
elements of the consensus — court simplification and services, bar flexibility, legal aid efficiency and availability, and systems of triage and assignment, have developed from the practical challenges that the constituencies face in doing their jobs.
The second extract is from the final section that discusses open questions for Legal Aid leadership:
D. Where Is the Funding to Come From?
While the overall subject of access to justice funding is beyond the scope of this paper, some general points may be useful:
1. The current incremental strategy has not met the
challenge of need.
2. The funding issue remains the Achilles heel of the
“civil Gideon” movement. State courts are deeply reluctant to mandate expenditures on counsel, and have been refusing the opportunity to do so.
3. Funding components must be counter-cyclical, rather than cyclical with changes in the economy. In this sense, IOLTA is the opposite of what it should be.
4. The only way to get funding is through a compre- hensive approach that changes the politics of the whole access issue, and brings in a far broader alliance.
5. In such a grand bargain, the interests of the private bar as well as middle-income people cannot be forgotten.
6. In such a bargain, cost savings are as important as new sources of revenue. The political system will only make resources available if it is convinced of the system’s cost effectiveness.
7. Management and budget structures must be designed to incentivize efficiency. In the current structure, courts do not reap the benefit when they institute changes that mean that people can proceed without lawyers, or cut the cost to legal aid. If access to counsel budgets came through the courts, that would change.
MIE Journal provides unique access to an important audience that shapes Legal Aid on the ground, and I particularly want to thank them for providing this opportunity to speak to that audience. I hope the topics raised in the article will be the focus of debate at the upcoming NLADA Conference and beyond.