A REPORT ON THE PUBLIC HEARING ON ACCESS TO JUSTICE. Conducted by the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services on August 10, 2002 ~Draft~.
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Conducted by the
ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services
on August 10, 2002
1. The need for legal services should be viewed on a continuum, with the needs of some met by the resources of the courts, the needs of others met by the resources of lawyers and the needs of others met by other legal services providers, depending on the complexity of the issues.
2. Courts should continue to experiment with innovations in the services they provide to pro se litigants. These innovations include improved courthouse navigation, resident courthouse facilitators, universally accessible web sites, model forms, multi-lingual information and services and simplified procedures.
3. A major part of this experimentation in the courts involves evaluation. Do innovations increase access to justice, increase efficiency and effectiveness of court systems, increase understanding and compliance by litigants of court orders, increase satisfaction with the courts as a resource for effective dispute resolution and increase just results? Only innovations that meet these goals should be sustained. Where they fail to meet the goals, other alternatives should be explored, including the use of resources outside of the courts.
4. Courts should adopt methods that will result in better customer services. Customer-centered business approaches, using advanced technological capacities, standardize procedures, and community-based court planning can be effective tools in creating this orientation.
5. The jurisdictional limits of small claims courts should be examined and set at limits that allow litigants to expand their ability to seek justice through these settings. Lawyers should be encouraged to assist small claims court litigants through unbundled services.
6. In response to the needs of consumers set out by the continuum, lawyers should offer their services according to the needs and wants of those consumers. In addition to full representation, lawyers should provide unbundled legal services.
8. State ethics rules and rules of procedure should be examined and, where necessary, modified to permit limited representation that can be promoted and provided on competitive, cost-effective bases. Specific issues include ghostwriting, limited appearances, fee sharing and client development.
9. To the extent nonlawyers are competent to provide legal services, they should be subject to regulations imposed by the state designed to assure a reasonable level of competence and protection to the consumer, rather than categorically being forbidden to provide services through the application of unauthorized practice of law statutes.
10. Lawyers should play an integral role in the diagnosis of appropriate personal civil legal services. People should be directed to service providers according to the complexity of their legal matter and their capabilities to address the matter.
11. The legal profession should vigilantly guard against the erosions of access to justice resulting from changes in the substantive law, such as tort reform, bankruptcy changes and binding arbitration.
Technology should be utilized to advance access to affordable legal services. This includes the use of technology as a practice tool for lawyers, as a resource to interface and support other legal services providers and the courts, and as a resource to advance collaborations among all those who are dedicated to assuring widespread access to meaningful justice.
13. If the legal community and courts recognize the value of the continuum of need, employ technology and define an appropriate role for legal service providers, they will successfully meet the needs of the latent legal marketplace and facilitate an application of resources necessary to advance and ultimate achieve a civil Gideon, so that all those who need a lawyer will have access to one.