Everyone values access to justice, but it is unavailable to millions of people in disputes over the most basic and important human needs including preserving a home, keeping a family together, holding onto one’s life savings, and securing personal safety. It is compromised even in criminal cases. Access to justice means that people are able to learn about and protect their rights through a neutral and nondiscriminatory process that determines the facts, applies the fair rule of law, and enforces a just result. The National Center for Access to Justice at Fordham Law School is the national academically affiliated non-partisan organization that is working to accomplish change that enables people to obtain justice.
- The Justice Index – We created and maintain the Justice Index, www.justiceindex.org, using data and technology to expand 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. On August 12, 2017, the 13 members of the pro bono Justice Index Team that helped build the Justice Index will receive the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award, recognizing their extraordinary pro bono service.
- Research – We carry out and support research on new models for access to justice. We conduct our own projects. We are a liaison between social scientists, court officials, and the legal aid bar. We convened an expert working group of academics and reformers to recommend “national access to justice indicators” in support the federal government’s initiative to implement Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda in the U.S.. Goal 16 calls on all countries, including the U.S., to track data and use indicators to expand access to justice. The experts’ recommended indicators are live on-line here.
- New Models – We help create new models for access to justice, including civil right to counsel models and new roles for “advocates” and “navigators” who are not lawyers.
- Language Access – We work through our Justice Index, www.justiceindex.org, and in reports, to support interpreting and translating in our justice system.
- Legal Education – We work to integrate access to justice more deeply into legal education, including by expanding pro bono involvement of students and professors. We co-chair the Access to Justice Initiative at Fordham Law School.
- On August 12, 2017, the 13 members of the pro bono Justice Index Team that helped build the Justice Index will receive the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award, recognizing their extraordinary pro bono service.
- On December 1, 2016, NCAJ in partnership with the Columbia Human Rights Institute posted Recommended Access to Justice Indicators for Implementation of Goal 16 of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in the United States, based on a Consultation co-coordinated by NCAJ and CHRI that brought together experts on access to justice with officials in federal agencies comprising the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (“WH-LAIR”).
- On October 19, 2016, NCAJ hosted a videotaped program “Where the Civil and Criminal Justice Systems Meet” as part of its move to Fordham Law School and the launch of Fordham’s school-wide Access to Justice Initiative.
- Civil access to justice, view the interview with NCAJ’s Executive Director, David Udell, on Bob Herbert’s Op-Ed.TV!
- Check out NCAJ’s new Justice Index! It’s in the news and in this US Dept of Justice report! with more news coverage here.
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.