David Udell and the National Center for Access to Justice have scored a coup in recruiting Laura Abel as their Deputy Director. As their announcement puts it:
Laura brings directly relevant vision and experience to the Center. She is a founder of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel and a leader of the national movement for language access in the nation’s courts. Her access to justice scholarship has been published in leading law journals. For the past year, she served as Acting Co-director of the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, having also helped to build and lead that program since 1999. In her early career she litigated civil rights cases as a Public Interest Fellow at Gibbons P.C., served as a staff attorney fellow with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, and clerked for Judge Robert Carter of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School.
Laura combines a commitment to the cause of expanding the right to counsel, with an understanding that such rights are only going to be created in the context of a much more comprehehnsive set of solutions, and with an ability to rigorously analyze the relationship between the elements of that set.
I believe that the creation of the National Center is an important step in building the institutional structure needed to advocate fr and build a comprehensive multi-faceted access system. Again the Center (not yet widely enough known) sums it up:
The National Center for Access to Justice is the single academically affiliated non-partisan law and policy organization dedicated exclusively to achieving reform on behalf of vulnerable people in the civil and criminal justice systems. The Center works closely with community based organizations, the courts and the bar, allied national organizations, officials across government, social scientists and other academics. Its work features research, litigation, public advocacy, and reliance on new technologies. It draws strength from its partnership with the students, faculty, and staff of Cardozo Law School. In current projects, the Center is creating The Justice Index, a web-based system for evaluating the quality of justice delivered by our legal system, and is also conducting a project on Law Student Pro Bono, examining the degree to which law students engaged in volunteer activities can make a difference for people in need.