How to improve access to justice

The paper Improving access to justice: community-based solutions addresses a major issue – inaccessibility to justice – prevalent in countries with advanced legal systems such as the UK and the US. The paper discusses reasons for this inaccessibility, and proposes solutions which do not require government intervention.  

The paper explain how, the current grave economic inequality, and a legal profession which is not representative of the society it represent – corrode access to justice. As economic equality is unlikely to improve in the near future, the paper proposes alternative immediate solutions.  

  • 1) Lawyers (as well as other professionals) to accept a duty to the community – all practising lawyers should provide no less than 2 hours per week of pro bono/free legal advice, which in England and Wales would total approximately 17 million hours per year being made available to those in need.  
  • 2) Law schools to introduce respective modules to prepare law students for representing society in the current era, for example currently being limited information accessible, and no training, in relation to lower courts where nearly all cases end.  
  • 3) Making the legal profession more representative of society – currently being a disconnect in values, knowledge and experiences between lawyers and their clients. For example, in England and Wales, law firms and chambers, whether organised or not by the Law Society and the Bar Council, should introduce standard entry tests for pupillage and training contract, replacing current subjective unreliable criteria (e.g. interview).  Figures show that current practices prevent the legal system from being representative of society.

The paper calls for urgent action by individuals and communities, and suggests that such actions would also encourage governments to increase efforts to improve equality in access to justice.

See Selita, Fatos 2019. Improving Access to Justice: Community-based Solutions. AJLE, Volume 6, Issue 1-2, pp. 83–90