There is broad consensus in the judicial system that a vast number of us cannot afford even basic legal services despite there being a superabundance of lawyers. Further, many people who can afford lawyers choose not to hire them because they cannot identify a return on investment. The result is that courts are seeing dramatically increasing numbers of parties unrepresented by lawyers.
What professors Barton and Bibas have expertly accomplished is distilling into one very readable book the many factors that contribute to a largely inaccessible justice system. Whereas many “access to justice” efforts in the past three decades have focused on identifying means of providing more lawyers to more people, the authors persuasively argue that “lawyering up” has not been an effective strategy. Instead, they propose simplifying processes that may not require lawyers, such as having special dockets for unrepresented parties in low value claims, having judges become more active in eliciting important facts from parties, ensuring that simple forms are available, and piloting the use of technology to help people resolve typical disputes through online dispute resolution, to name just a few. The suggestions for reforming America’s archaic and inexplicably expensive system of legal education are particularly insightful.
Having served on innumerable “access” committees over three decades where addressing the root of the problem is largely avoided, this candid assessment of legal representation, together with its array of potential solutions, is both timely and welcomed.
- Hardcover: 280 pages
- Publisher: Encounter Books (1 August 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 159403933X
- ISBN-13: 978-1594039331
- Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.5 x 23.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 476 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)