National Center for Access to Justice

Welcome to the National Center for Access to Justice at Fordham Law School

Our vision:  

In the United States and around the world, people’s lives are compromised when they do not understand their rights, cannot assert their rights, cannot rely on a neutral and unbiased decision-maker, cannot count on the fair rule of law and cannot enforce the law. Access to justice can often be the difference, enabling people to:  keep a family together, save their homes, secure their physical safety, obtain sufficient food, and maintain their freedom. The National Center for Access to Justice at Fordham Law School is the national academically-affiliated nonprofit organization working to accomplish change that that helps people obtain access to justice.

Our projects:  

  • The Justice Index – NCAJ’s flagship initiative, the Justice Index, is an on-line resource at justiceindex.org that uses data and indicators to promote access to justice by ranking state justice systems on their adoption of best policies for civil legal aid, language access, disability access, and people without lawyers. NCAJ’s Justice Index Team of 100 volunteers from 13 institutions (six law firms, four corporations and three law schools) received the American Bar Association’s national Pro Bono Publico Award for the pro bono service that helped bring the Justice Index to life. See NCAJ’s overview here and the ABA’s video here.
  • Research – NCAJ carries out research on access to justice, and also serves as a liaison between social scientists, legal aid attorneys, court officials and other stakeholders. NCAJ is pursuing an Outcomes Project to develop guidance for civil legal aid programs and civil legal aid funders in New York City on best practices for using data to track outcomes achieved by civil legal aid programs for clients and communities. NCAJ convened an expert working group that recommended “national access to justice indicator sets” to US agencies to support the US government’s initiative to implement Goal 16 of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda, which calls on all countries to use data and indicators to expand access to justice.
  • New Models –  NCAJ helps create responsible new models to assure access to justice, including civil right to counsel laws, new roles for “non-lawyer advocates”,  new approaches for judges, students, clerks, and new uses for technology.
  • Language Access – NCAJ works through the Justice Index, www.justiceindex.org and issues reports to support best policies for providing interpreting and translating services in state justice systems.
  • Law Schools – NCAJ supports efforts to make access to justice a core element of legal education, including by expanding opportunities for pro bono service by students and professors. We co-chair the Access to Justice Initiative at Fordham Law School.

Our headlines:

We hope you will learn more about NCAJ’s work to assure that all people are able to protect their rights in our American justice system. For a  two page printable introduction to NCAJ, click here.