Recommendations from Agenda for Access:
The American People and Civil Justice
Final report on the Implications of the Comprehensive Legal Needs Study
efforts that will increase the options to people seeking legal help is a
fundamental rethinking of the traditional courthouse model of the practice
of law. This model assumes an
adversarial situation, calls for legal representation at every stage in the
process, and anticipates a remedy that can be found only in the justice system.
[We need to] Increase the flexibility of the Civil Justice System, thereby
expanding the options available to people seeking help with a legal problem.
discrete-tasks delivery of legal services
Make courts more
approachable: Courts can take steps
that let people know the judiciary is there to serve their needs.
Flexible hours, multilingual personnel, and support services such as
services ranging from self-help publications to interactive computer systems
that answer questions generate pleadings, to legal clinics and seminars on
topics of recurring interest. The
objective here is to acquaint people who have legal needs with options and
choices within the court setting that may be appropriate to their situation.
Need to assist
self-representing individuals who appear in venues such as family courts and
administrative hearings without an attorney.
Many courts have instituted formal sessions to train self-representing
and procedures regarding some transactions: Much can be learned from the experience of several states
that are simplifying routine legal matters such as uncontested divorces,
visitation rights and parental support, or the probate of simple estates.
States have published clearly written forms covering a range of legal
proceedings. Publication of forms
by private vendors regarding a wide range of transactions has also proliferated
and has been protected against charges it constitutes the unauthorized practice
Accountability: The experience of
hotlines and brief advice through prepaid legal programs is encouraging in terms
of expanding access through discrete-task services while clients are protected.
To deal with
malpractice concerns, one proposal is to have states provide immunity by statute
or rule in cases where clients have specifically agreed that certain tasks will
not be performed.
regarding malpractice liability issues inherent in discrete-task services and
arising when lawyers collaborate with non-lawyers in addressing clients needs
should be examined by pertinent components of state governments.
within the organized bar should work to ensure that professionals standards that
are promulgated do not stifle development of new ways to providing legal
services in which clients and lawyers are protected while the broader public
interest is also served.
Agenda For Access: The American
People and Civil Justice Final
Report on the Implications of the Comprehensive Legal Needs Study
By: Consortium on
Legal Services and the Public, American Bar Association
For a copy of the complete recommendations contact the American Bar Association,