Evidence-Based Access to Justice

By: Laura K. Abel. Published by: University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law & Social Change. Published in June 2010.

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An evidence-based approach is notably absent from the many efforts to expand access to the justice system for civil litigants, and there is no generally accepted metric for evaluating which access to justice tool works when. This article proposes the use of controlled, randomized experiments to evaluate whether a particular access to justice intervention leads to the same rate of wins and losses as full and competent attorney representation. It also describes a second metric for assessing the fairness of proceedings in which a particular access to justice intervention is used: whether the intervention provides litigants with the ability to adequately perform all tasks they would need to perform to enable the judge to reach a fair and accurate decision.

Two proposed metrics:

a) An outcome-based metric to measure the effectiveness of a tool: whether a particular access to justice intervention leads to the same rate of wins and losses as full and competent attorney representation. Of course this is complicated; sometimes in one proceeding there are wins and losses. But scientists and lawyers can work together to identify reliable indicators of wins and losses for many types of cases.

b) A process-based metric for assessing fairness of a particular tool: whether the intervention enables litigants to perform the tasks necessary to enable judges to reach accurate decisions.



Categories: Researchers and Academics

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