National Center for Access to Justice

NY Court System Calls for Reform in 2012 Report of Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York

The Unified New York Court System has just published its 2012 Report of the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in New York.  This year’s Report describes the continuing crisis for access to justice in the New York courts, before turning to its recommendations, where among other things it:

  • Recommends a commitment of additional funding for civil legal services in the state, and sets forth an analysis of how increased funding for civil legal services would be financially advantageous for the state.
  • Recommends an increase in the annual pro bono aspirational goal from 20 to 50 hours, and recommends mandatory reporting of hours performed.
  • Recommends multiple reforms to increase the role of law schools in responding to the justice gap, including:  1) involving the law schools in regional planning to meet unmet legal needs, 2) holding an annual conference that includes the law schools and other justice system stakeholders, 3) creating online systems to increase the involvement of law students in pro bono services, 4) establishing a statewide uniform practice order in New York, 5)  promoting statewide “incubator” projects at the law schools to support new law graduates in meeting needs of low income communities, and 6) developing public service curricula in the law schools.
  • Recommends that the Chief Judge establish an Advisory Committee to develop a pilot project that would test roles for involving non-lawyers in new roles providing certain categories of legal services to help meet the legal needs of people who would otherwise proceed without legal representation.
  • Recommends diverse steps to improve the functioning of the state’s Town and Village Courts.

The full set of recommendations is set forth in the report, which is available on the Court System’s main web page for the Task Force. Here are direct links to the Report, and to the Appendix to the Report.  Here too is the specific section of the Report that contains recommendations for reform of legal education.

The executive director of the National Center for Access to Justice contributed to the portions of the report and of the appendix describing opportunities to increase the role of law schools in responding to the justice gap.