National Center for Access to Justice

New Writings Define Leading Edge of Civil Justice Reform Movement – The A2J Summit Collection is Live

In more than a dozen new writings gathered in The A2J Summit Collection, activists from across the country describe the leading edge and future promise of the civil justice reform movement, in many instances seeing its prospects as closely intertwined with the criminal justice reform movement and the national effort to reduce mass incarceration.

The A2J Summit Collection, published in the Fordham Law Review Online, is an outgrowth of a pathbreaking Fall 2018 national convening — the A2J Summit — that brought more than 85 activists and leaders together at Fordham Law School for a strategic reconsideration of the place, purpose, and importance of civil justice reform.

The pieces in the A2J Summit Collection make the case for the crucial importance of civil justice reform to address the crisis in which people risk the loss of their homes, their children, their savings, their physical and emotional well-being, even their liberty, because of challenges posed by the civil justice system. The authors and their subjects are:

  • David Udell, in the Foreword, “Building the Access to Justice Movement”
  • Jonathan Lippman on how “justice cannot be about the color of your skin or the amount of money in your pocket”
  • Rebecca Sandefur, on how “[b]reaking every yoke is an aspiration that has inspired people for millennia” and “[a]chieving it requires that we actually start somewhere, with real problems of our common life”
  • Gillian Hadfield, on how people “should be marching in the streets to demand that it be as straightforward to figure out a legal problem as it is to book a hotel room or get directions in a new city”
  • Jo-Ann Wallace, on how “access to counsel can help prevent further violence and establish long-term safety and stability”
  • Ariel Simon and Sandra Ambrozy, on how “partnerships with other fields and social movements are breaking vital new ground in increasing access to justice”
  • Katherine Alteneder, on how “[t]he people’s law ought to be clear and simple and allow people to get on with their lives, but it is not”
  • Lauren Sudeall, on how “the line between criminal and civil is blurrier than we typically acknowledge and the experience of many—low-income people, in particular—exists at the overlap”
  • Lisa Foster, on how “if we apply the lessons we have learned in fines and fees along with the lessons learned in access to justice, we could serve as a model for how to bake access to justice issues into more specific policy reforms”
  • Justine Olderman and Runa Rajagopal, on how “people need not  enter the criminal legal system to become ensnared by this complex web of legal consequences”
  • Peter Chapman on how the legal empowerment movement is enabling people everywhere to “understand, use, and shape the law”
  • Jennifer Ching, Thomas Harvey, Meena Jagannath, Purvi Shah, and Blake Strode, on how “any mobilization around access to justice fails if it does not center the vision and strategies of larger social justice movements”
  • James Gamble and Amy Widman on how “[t]o get from the personal story to the complete picture requires more data than we currently have”; and
  • Martha Bergmark, on how the new website, All Rise for Civil Justice, “casts a spotlight on America’s broken civil justice system, the people it hurts, the decisions that brought it to the brink, and the people working to make it better”.

The National Center for Access to Justice and the A2J Initiative at Fordham Law School, the joint sponsors of the A2J Summit and of the A2J Summit Collection, invite readers to consider the new writings, and to join forces with our own efforts and with those of the authors in working to expand civil access to justice.

The A2J Summit was generously supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Pew Charitable Trust.

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Visit the A2J Initiative at Fordham Law School