National Center for Access to Justice

New Models


In response to the justice gap, courts and communities across the United States are implementing new policy models intended to help expand access to justice.These models are important in light of the harms posed to individuals and families when proceeding without counsel in matters that may include, among others, eviction and foreclosure proceedings; domestic violence, divorce, child support and child custody proceedings; debt collection proceedings; and, criminal justice system proceedings.

The new models include new roles for judges and for court officials, new “self help centers”, new computer kiosks with automated forms, new “e-filing options”, and new roles for “non-lawyers” (including “navigators”, “court advocates”, “community based paralegals”, “limited licensed legal technicians”).  The new models also include “a civil right to counsel”, sometimes referred to as “civil Gideon.”


NCAJ is working on multiple fronts to support selected new models for access to justice:

  • The Justice Index – NCAJ has identified selected best models for access to justice in the Justice Index, The Justice Index is NCAJ’s data-intensive online resource that ranks states based on whether they have adopted best models for access to justice. Selection of models for inclusion in the Justice Index is based on NCAJ’s knowledge, the recommendations of leading institutions, the guidance of leading experts, and the early findings of a growing field of social science evaluative research focused on models for access to justice. Selected best models are posted in the Justice Index accompanied by citation information to facilitate their replication in new jurisdictions. To visit and use the Justice Index, click See also Justice Index on NCAJ’s web site.
  • Research on New Models – NCAJ also conducts and supports research on new models for civil legal aid. Research is at the core of NCAJ’s work, and is essential to distinguish the models that work effectively to assure access to justice from those that don’t work as effectively. See Research on NCAJ’s web site.


  • On September 26, NCAJ Executive Director David Udell joined more than 80 people to testify in support of Intro 214-A, a bill introduced by City Council Members Mark Levine and Vanessa Gibson that would create a right to civil counsel for low-income New Yorkers facing eviction, ejectment, and foreclosure.

screen-shot-2016-09-28-at-9-19-26-amSee a full video of the testimonies and skip to 3:39:00 for the testimony by David Udell. Download written testimony here.