National Center for Access to Justice

Introduction:

NCAJ carries out its own research, works with social scientists, helps to connect the social science community and the legal aid community, all in the service of developing and relying on data to increase access to justice.

Projects:

  • Outcomes Project – This project is funded by the New York Community Trust to develop guidance for civil legal aid programs and civil legal aid funders in New York City on best practices for using data to evaluate outcomes achieved by civil legal aid programs for clients and communities. NCAJ is pursuing the project in 2017 and 2018, which includes conducting interviews with civil legal aid program leaders and with leaders in the philanthropic community. Attorneys at Morgan, Lewis and Bockius are providing pro bono support to the project. A panel of expert advisors to the project includes: a) Christine M. Fecko, General Counsel, IOLA Fund of the State of New York; b) Bob Gillett, Executive Director, Michigan Advocacy Program; c) Rachel Perry, Founder and Principal, Strategic Data Analytics; d) Rebecca L. Sandefur, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Associate Professor, College of Law, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Senior Research Social Scientist, American Bar Foundation; and, e) Jessica Steinberg, Associate Professor of Clinical Law, George Washington School of Law. More information about the project is here.
  • 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. The research has been completed, and the proposed report has been submitted for consideration at a peer reviewed journal where it awaits review.
  • 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.