National Center for Access to Justice

The National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ) uses data, research, policy analysis and advocacy to expose how the justice system fails to stand up for equal justice and, all too often, functions as a source of oppression. Our work is rooted in the principle that all people should enjoy access to justice, which we describe as the meaningful opportunity to be heard, secure one’s rights and obtain the law’s protection. Our current projects include the following:

The Justice Index – We are relying on data and rankings to promote adoption of best policies for access to justice.

    • Justice Index Attorney Count with Q&A, describing NCAJ’s research project to count all the civil legal aid organizations in the US and all of their attorneys (memo, 2019)
    • ABA Pro Bono Publico Award, telling the story of the Justice Index on the occasion of the ABA’s award to NCAJ’s team of law firms, law schools, and corporate counsel
    • Overview of the Justice Index, providing a quick introduction to the scope, methodology, and key findings

Fines & Fees Project – We are building a consensus on best policies for curbing the use of fines and fees to fund government.

Civil Right to Counsel – We are supporting the movement for a civil right to counsel, including by serving on the Steering Committee of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel.

Legal Empowerment through Roles Beyond Lawyers – We are supporting reform to enable people to obtain otherwise unavailable legal aid from qualified individuals and useful technologies.

Tracking Outcomes: A Guide for Civil Legal Aid Providers & Funders – We are using data to track effects of civil legal aid in people’s lives.

AtJ Scholars Project – We are supporting researchers with expertise from across disciplines to build the field of access to justic research.

    • David Udell Dishes on Growing Access to Justice Research, describing in Law360 interview the importance of research, the Justice Index, and the civil justice reform movement
    • AtJ Scholars Conference, partnering with professors Rebecca Sandefur and Alyx Mark, on National Science Foundation workshop to bring social scientists together from across disciplines to build the field of civil justice research

Sustainable Development Goal 16 – We are supporting in the US the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda which calls on all countries to use data to expand access to justice.

A2J Initiative at Fordham Law School – We are putting access to justice at the center of legal education.

    • A2J Summit at Fordham Law School, convening national leaders to envision goals for a unified civil and criminal justice system reform movement
    • A2J Summit Collection, publishing 14 articles in the Fordham Law Review On-Line by activists, judges, legal aid leaders, and others, defining a vision of the civil justice reform movement
    • Where the Civil and Criminal Justice Systems Meet, moderating panel with chief judges, legal aid reformer and social scientist, on unifying the civil and criminal justice system reform movements

Memos, Syllabi, Videos, More:

    • Overview of NCAJ (1-page memo, February 17, 2020)
    • Overview of Justice Index Attorney Count Project (memo, 2019) with Q&A (memo, 2019)
    • Overview of Justice Index (memo, July 25, 2019)
    • Syllabus: Pursuing Policy Advocacy to Fix Fines, Fees & Private Sector Debt, the AtJ Seminar (memo, 2019)
    • Access to Justice, Rule of Law, and Role of NCAJ, Dahlia Lithwick, Slate Senior Reporter & Host of Amicus Podcast, on (video and transcript, 2018)
    • Op-Ed.TV!, speaking on civil justice reform with Bob Herbert in television interview (video, 2017)
    • Building the Justice System Reform Movement, speech to Access to Justice Commission Chairs (IGNITE video, 2019)
    • Building the Access to Justice Reform Movement, describing civil justice reform as the next front in the criminal justice reform movement (law journal, 2019)
    • Pro Bono & Professional Development Roundtable, describing pro bono in the U.S. in panel for National Association for Law Placement (“NALP”) (video, 2013)