National Center for Access to Justice

Introduction:

NCAJ is committed to using research and data to evaluate the effectiveness of the new models for access to justice. NCAJ works with social scientists, carries out its own research projects, serves as a liaison between the social science community and the legal aid community.

NCAJ is also supporting the implementation in the United States of Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, which calls on all countries to draw on  the “data revolution” to establish “indicators” as a means of measuring progress to assure access to justice. On September 15, 2016, NCAJ co-hosted (with the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute) a “Civil Society Consultation with White House – Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable on Goal 16 Access to Justice Indicators”, inviting 30 experts from nonprofit organizations and academia to develop recommended indicators, and bringing these experts into dialogue about their indicators with 30 federal officials from 15 agencies. The event is described in this Department of Justice Blog, Courtesy of Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer (September 16, 2016).  NCAJ has also published the recommended indicators in the NCAJ blog, along with an overview of the initiative to implement Goal 16 in the US.


Projects:

  • Engaged & Active Judges Research Project – This project is funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the fairness of proposed stipulations of settlement in NYC Housing Court. Lead researchers are social scientists Larry Heuer of Barnard & Steve Penrod of John Jay. NCAJ helped design the project, and helped engage law student summer associates at New York City law firms in the pro bono task of reviewing stipulations in eviction cases arising in NYC Housing Court. The research proposal, approved by NSF in December 2015, is here, The Fairness of Proposed Stipulations of Settlement in NYC Housing Court.
  • Goal 16 National Access to Justice Indicators Project – NCAJ convened 30 experts from the nonprofit and academic communities with 30 government officials from 15 agencies in the White House – Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable for a “Civil Society Consultation on Goal 16 Access to Justice Indicators” on September 16, 2016 in Washington, D.C. NCAJ’s partner in coordinating the Consultation was Columbia Law School’s Human Rights Institute. See Department of Justice Blog, Courtesy of Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Bill Baer (September 16, 2016).

Resources:

  • David Udell, Research: The Promise. The Challenges. The Rewards, National Center for Access to Justice (2013) – A guide for the legal aid bar and for researchers on the contrasting perspectives each community brings to research evaluating diverse aspects of on civil legal aid.