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Around the world today, access to justice enjoys an energetic and passionate resurgence. It is an object both of scholarly inquiry and political contest, and both a social…
Around the world today, access to justice enjoys an energetic and passionate resurgence. It is an object both of scholarly inquiry and political contest, and both a social movement and a value commitment that motivates study and action. Though the recent resurgence makes much seem new, in fact access to justice has been a topic of policy advocacy and empirical research since the early 20th century (e.g., Smith, 1919). One legacy of early work is scholars’ and practitioners’ tendency to conceptualize access as a social problem that is faced by lower status groups, such as poor people. Another legacy is a penchant for reducing, in a whole variety of ways, questions of justice to matters of law. Given this orienting framework, classical access to justice research focuses heavily on empirically documenting how law falls short of its supposed promise. At the same time, classical research often relied on an expansion of law – more or more affordable lawyers, more or more welcoming courts and hearing tribunals, wider participation on juries, new and better rights – as the policy solution to injustice or inequality.
This article's overarching purpose is to serve as an initial theoretical and empirical step in applying rights consciousness inquiry to the criminal procedure context…
This article's overarching purpose is to serve as an initial theoretical and empirical step in applying rights consciousness inquiry to the criminal procedure context. First, building on previous work within the legal consciousness and rights consciousness traditions, I discuss the ways in which attention to criminal procedure can inform our understanding of rights consciousness and enumerate differences between the way rights consciousness approaches civil law and the ways it might approach criminal law. Additionally, I suggest that understanding the relationship between people's subjective impressions of procedures and procedures’ legal and moral validity offers a novel means of studying procedure that I term “procedural rights consciousness.” In the second part of the article, I report results of two studies designed as first empirical steps in applying rights consciousness as the first part suggests. My findings indicate that not only do people lack knowledge about their rights in criminal investigations but they also think about these rights in patterned ways that reflect a method of understanding law characterized by “lay jurisprudence” reasoning, in which culturally prevalent “tenets” are applied to specific situations. This mechanism often leads people to erroneous conclusions about the rights they possess. The final part of the article sets out an agenda for further rights consciousness research.
Access to justice is both a topic of engaged social-legal research and a key component of legal professional ideology. There is a relationship between the two. The more committed the organized legal profession to the issue of access to justice, the higher the profile of scholarly research on topics that relate in one form or another to access to justice. The organized bar's commitment peaked in the 1960s and 1970s, waned in the 1980s, and has not regained the position it once had on the domestic U.S. agenda. In contrast, however, access to justice has recently emerged strongly on the reform agenda that U.S. and multilateral foreign aid organizations – along with the U.S. legal profession – are promoting abroad as part of the renewed post Cold War effort to build the rule of law.
Purpose – Decreasing governmental support means access to legal services for the poor depends upon the interests of private actors controlling the needed resources. Law…
Purpose – Decreasing governmental support means access to legal services for the poor depends upon the interests of private actors controlling the needed resources. Law firms are a major source of resources for non-profit entities providing those services. This chapter examines the nature of that support.Design/methodology/approach – Law firms are guided by self-interest. How this influences their pro bono activities supporting legal services to the poor is explored through a case study of the legal services market in Cook County, IL and Chicago. It draws from: documentary research on over 50 private legal service providers in Cook County; interviews with 31 lawyers participating in the market for legal services in Cook County; and a focus group with 10 lawyers participating in that market.Findings – The interests driving law firm support for legal services do not match the demonstrated areas of greatest legal need or the stated purposes of the non-profit entities receiving that support. Instead, they reflect reasonable firm self-interest in such goals as lawyer training and marketing. Consequently, non-profit entities receiving support must accommodate those goals.Research limitations/implications – This study points to the need for more empirical research into the consequences of the privatization of legal services.Originality/value – Privatization means that some crucial legal needs will never be met, and this study provides an empirical context for the debate over “civil Gideon” – whether there should be a constitutional right to legal representation in civil matters akin to the constitutional right in criminal matters.
This chapter examines the prevalence of justiciable civil justice problems experienced by Canadians, the ways in which people respond to them and the consequences of experiencing these kinds of problems. The results show that experiencing justiciable problems is a nearly normal feature of the everyday lives of a large proportion of the population in a modern society. Particularly, important features of justiciable problems are the prevalence of multiple problems, the clustering of justiciable problems and the linkages between justiciable, health and social problems. The results suggest that justiciable problems may be a part of broader patterns of social exclusion. One implication of this research is that access to justice services may not only address legal problems but, by doing so, may have the effect of forestalling processes of social exclusion of which civil law problems are a part.