Wisconsin Law Review, University of Wisconsin
January 1, 2013
The essential elements of procedural justice—voice, reasoned explanation, and respect—as well as favorable outcomes, can all be enhanced and even made possible in many situations, but we should proceed with caution in measuring.
Wisconsin Law Review, Volume 2013, No. 1
Jane Aiken and Stephen Wizner discuss the difficulty of objectively measuring the effectiveness of legal counsel. Because the success of a lawyer is often subject to the client, it is difficult to measure the overall quality of legal work provided. There are many factors that are not considered when simply looking at a win/loss ratio of a lawyer’s career. Many disputes are settled without a court, and might otherwise not be included when looking for a history of success in a lawyer. The authors of this article break down the categories for measurement of legal services.
- Empathy – respectful and sympathetic efforts to connect with the clients in need.
- Advocacy – both in and out of the courtroom. Advocacy is often a community effort, making phone calls and writing letters that a client might otherwise be unable to arrange.
- Representation – adversarial judicial and administrative hearings.
- Understanding – instead of only providing legal services, clinicians strive to explain the law to their clients and have the clients develop an understanding of the laws they are dealing with.
- Inspiration – clinics engage the students and help develop the belief and capacity to make a difference as a practicing attorney.
- Satisfaction – using client surveys to measure whether the clients are satisfied with the results of the legal services provided.
- Injustice – whether a client is more likely to lose a case just because he or she does not have a lawyer, and not based on the facts of the case.
- Mobilization – organizing communities to participate in political reforms, and being prepared to represent clients who run into legal issues while advocating for political change.
- Fairness – underprivileged clients want to feel as though they have a chance in the system and are not prohibitively burdened by their poverty.
Winning a case was not the only factor that determines the success or failure of representation. When asked about the help they received, clients were more likely to be satisfied with the help if they felt as though they had learned more about their own rights and responsibilities in the system. Clients also care deeply about the perceived fairness of the process, sometimes even more than they care about the results. The authors end with a warning that misusing the research, such as client satisfaction, could lead a system to claim it is providing justice to the poor when in fact it is not.
PUBLICATION DETAILSFormat: Research
Publication Type: Journal Article
Geographic coverage, US: NATIONAL
Topics: Legal Needs | Measurement | Featured | Research Agenda
How Provided: Courts, Legal Aid Attorneys
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Pub date is 2013, but not Jan 1. You may wish to research the exact date.