National Center for Access to Justice Launches Justice Index
Results Reveal Best Practices in Access to Justice in all 50 States
New metrics show disparities in number of attorneys for people in poverty, support for people with limited English proficiency, access to justice for people with disabilities, and help for people proceeding without lawyers
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ) today announced the launch of the Justice Index – its new online tool which compares the quality of access to justice in statewide justice systems. The Justice Index is the first of its kind, which uses cutting edge interactive map technology to show the geographical distribution of access to justice across the US.
“The PLA is taking part in this signature project to help realize the NCAJ’s vision of both discovering the degree to which our country assures access to justice and creating a roadmap to strengthen our justice system going forward”
In its first installment, the Justice Index presents data in four categories reflecting key elements of access to justice in statewide justice systems, including: i) the number of attorneys for people in poverty; ii) the amount of support for people with limited English proficiency; iii) access for people with disabilities; and iv) help for people proceeding without lawyers.
The Justice Index presents specific new findings on access to justice in the states, including the following key findings:
- Some states have fewer than one civil legal aid attorney per 10,000 people who are poor while there are 40 attorneys for every 10,000 people across the nation.
- 24 percent of states do not have a rule authorizing court clerks to provide informational assistance to people who have no lawyers.
- 45 percent of state judiciary web sites do not provide information in any language other than English.
- 25 percent of the states don’t yet assure quality by using language interpreters that are “certified.”
- 22% of states allow judges to charge a deaf or hearing impaired person for the cost of a sign language interpreter.
- 47 percent of states do not authorize judges to take steps to ensure that unrepresented individuals are fairly heard.
The Justice Index also provides two types of overall scores allowing comparisons of states to one another: i) a composite score shows the overall performance of each state in all categories of data combined; ii) a categorical score shows the overall performance of each state in each individual category.
“The Justice Index promotes data-driven conversation on how best to deliver on one of the core promises we all make to each other as Americans: that everyone must be equal before the law,” said David Udell, Executive director of NCAJ. “One of our main goals of the index is to start the conversation about where best practices are in place or needed in our state justice systems.”
The Pro Bono Effort that Created the Justice Index
NCAJ is guiding the development of the Justice Index as part of an unprecedented collaboration among multiple pro bono supporters.
- The Pfizer Legal Alliance (PLA) led the research for the Justice Index.
- A team of 10 attorneys and staff from Skadden Arps (a PLA firm) carried out the research to produce the first installment of the Justice Index.
- Additionally, teams of law students from Cardozo School of Law and Pennsylvania School of Law contributed to the research.
- UBS also helped to carry out the research for the Justice Index.
- Deloitte analyzed the data, calculated the indices, and deployed the latest visualization tools to display the results in the Justice Index.
- MSDS, the NYC based web design firm, built the Justice Index web site that houses the data, making it available to the public.
“The PLA is taking part in this signature project to help realize the NCAJ’s vision of both discovering the degree to which our country assures access to justice and creating a roadmap to strengthen our justice system going forward,” Ellen Rosenthal, Chief Counsel of the PLA said. “We are thrilled by this pro bono project which is in complete alignment with the PLA’s model of collaboration and innovation.”
“By engaging the public with fact-based data, in an interactive and thought provoking way, we hope to enhance transparency and accountability within the justice system,” said Jeremy Perisho, partner, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP. “Deloitte takes great pride in knowing that what we do best – applying our skills and expertise to client engagements – can accelerate positive, societal impact.”
For the full results of the Justice Index visit justiceindex.org, or to learn more about the National Center for Access to Justice, visit: www.ncforaj.org. The NCAJ will be releasing the second installment of the Justice Index in 2014.
Requests for Modifications to the Justice Index
The NCAJ invites requests at firstname.lastname@example.org for clarification or correction of data in the Justice Index. For requests received on or before May 31, 2014, NCAJ will determine whether to modify the Justice Index. Information provided after May 31, 2014 will be incorporated into Phase 2 of the index.
About The National Center for Access to Justice
The NCAJ is the academically affiliated non-partisan law and policy organization dedicated exclusively to increasing access to our nation’s civil and criminal justice systems. In carrying out its reform initiatives, NCAJ works closely with the bar, the judiciary, law schools, the legal aid community, and many other stakeholders including social services agencies and client groups. NCAJ’s tools include litigation, reports, public education and public advocacy, conferences, legislative drafting, and the latest data visualization tools. NCAJ makes its home at Cardozo School of Law where it periodically teaches the Access to Justice Clinic. In building the Justice Index, NCAJ is working with Pfizer, the Pfizer Legal Alliance (Skadden Arps and other PLA law firms), Deloitte, MSDS, UBS, Cardozo School of Law, and Pennsylvania School of Law. The Justice Index is an NCAJ Project. For more information about the Justice Index, visit justiceindex.org. For more information about NCAJ, visit NCAJ’s web site, www.ncforaj.org.
About the Pfizer Legal Alliance
Established in 2009, the PLA is a collaborative partnership between Pfizer and 15 law firms that has transformed the way legal services are delivered and valued. The cornerstones of the PLA are innovation, efficiency, relationship-building and enhanced communications between Pfizer’s in-house lawyers and outside counsel. All PLA firms work for Pfizer on a flat fee basis exclusively and together perform the vast majority of the company’s legal work across the globe.