This is news that might have a major long term impact. As this blog by World Bank
Senior Public Sector Specialist Paul Prettitore reports:
JCLA [Jordanian CSO Justice Center for Legal Aid] and the World Bank are now designing a methodology for measuring the impact of legal aid on poverty. We will go beyond case outcomes (what happened in court) and the social return on investment assessments that are common in this field. Instead we will measure impacts on poverty levels, social development indicators, and agency at the level of household and individual beneficiaries. We hope that JCLA will be able to track their beneficiaries over time (perhaps several years) to capture evolving impacts. This will contribute to enhancing what remains as a surprisingly limited knowledge base on the anti-poverty effect of legal aid, and hopefully open the door for wider evaluation of the role of justice sector services in addressing poverty. (Bold added)
If they can take this on this broader definition of outcome, why not us? Note that the outcomes that are described as “common in the field” are all too often a struggle to define and collect in the US.
Note also that this follows a “needs study” involving a survey of 10,000 households, conducted by the Jordanian Dept of Statistics. How about our Census Bureau playing the same role. Indeed, how about the Bureau including ATJ questions in one of their regular surveys — after all, they do investigate poverty.
Also note how well this resonates by the work by the Public Welfare Foundation on spreading the word within the philanthropic community on how legal aid (broadly defined) can help funders meet their goals.
Is there a way to get DOJ or another big data collection and analysis apparatus interested in this topic? How do we get Pew or Brookings interested in this kind of research and analysis? I have written to the Pew Research Center asking them to include questions about legal research in their Internet studies (they ask study participants about online activities) and was told that “we don’t accept outside contributions to our questionnaires”. That’s fine as far as it goes but leaves doing the data collection and analysis up to our own community. That seems unlikely to yield results. How do we get someone with the expertise and resources interested in this type of analysis?
Even if these ideas don’t come to fruition immediately, the great thing is they are in circulation. “Ihe torch be yours to hold it high.” All some of us can do is cheer you on.