Harvard Law & Policy Review, Harvard Law School, Harvard University
December 1, 2013
Without robust data collection and objective analysis, and without any data on outcomes or client views and opinions, it is nearly impossible to assess the performance of the US civil justice system.
This symposium volume of the Harvard Law & Policy Review celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Gideon v. Wainwright, n1 the landmark Supreme Court decision that required states to provide counsel for indigent defendants in criminal proceedings. However, there is no parallel right to counsel in civil matters. While opinions might differ about the present health and future prospects of legal services in the United States, there is scant evidence that the country is moving towards a civil Gideon.
The contributors to the symposium share at least three areas of fundamental agreement.
First, they conceive of the diversity of the present service landscape as an advantage. The variety of providers and modes of assistance have a place in an effective delivery system because client needs, circumstances, and preferences vary greatly.
Second, they agree that the growth in variety and complexity of services and providers has outpaced both management and coordination structures. The fragmented delivery system in the United States continues to suffer from a lack of data, an inability to scale up best practices, and an absence of accountability.
Third, the authors agree that the current U.S. legal services landscape lacks the knowledge necessary to effectuate data-driven improvement. Unlike most other legal aid programs in the world, the United States has no capacity for conducting policy-relevant research on important service-delivery questions at the national level. Without robust data collection and objective analysis, and without any data on outcomes or client views and opinions, it is nearly impossible to assess system performance.
PUBLICATION DETAILSFormat: Commentary
Publication Type: Chapter
Geographic coverage, US: NATIONAL
Geographic coverage, World: Great Britain, International Comparisons
Topics: Measurement | Research Agenda | Civil Right to Counsel
How Provided: Judicare, Legal Aid Attorneys, Self-Help
Permalink URL of this page: http://legalaidresearch.org/?p=3838
LINKS TO RESOURCESLink to PDF