What is Access to Justice?

If an alien dropped into your next committee meeting and asked “what is access to justice?”, how would you answer?

Would you describe it as a movement? A desired outcome? A state, or a privilege someone holds?

Many would say it’s a problem we’re trying to solve. But if we hope to solve this problem, we need to change the way we think about access to justice, and see not as a one-time fix, but as a working system that requires tuning.

Why? Because systems can be characterized and studied. Systems have can have levers and dials and gauges, to help us understand and change them to improve their performance.

And, if they use a standardized language, they can be used as a tool to reason with and communicate across diverse groups of people while addressing problems with the system.

But, what is a system? In the simplest terms, a system has inputs, some work or activity in the middle, and then an output of some value.

In the “system” of access to justice, inputs are the market demand from people on their pathways to justice; the work in the middle is done by the legal profession; and the outputs are the delivery of legal services in response to the needs of the market demand.

What do we want to understand about this A2J system? We believe there are three fundamental things, the most important (and elusive) of which being effectiveness.

Effectiveness is a result, or a function of, demand and delivery. Our task, and that of every organization or person trying to understand the access to justice problem, is to rigorously gather, analyze, and report data in all three areas, to inform evidence-based interventions on the system and improve it.

Access to justice is a complex system of nodes, connections, and relationships. AvvyPro is a tool that enables lawyers, clinics and regulators to monitor these vital touch points and make evidence-guided interventions to improve the system.

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