While thousands of young lawyers search for work, as many as 100 million poor and even middle income people may be in court, struggling to settle not only criminal proceedings, but divorce, foreclosure and other common civil disputes—all without an attorney.
“Our challenge as a profession—and a democracy—is to change that; to redistribute the skills of legal service providers to a significantly larger portion of our population.”
ALI is an independent organization of approximately 4,000 practicing attorneys, judges and legal educators who are elected to membership. Its 2014 annual meeting also included speeches from Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Noting that, “there is no uniform national compilation of statistics on unrepresented litigants” Haddon urged public law schools and universities to work more actively with the bar and bench to address what she called “the justice gap.”
Some of the measures Haddon endorsed to bridge the justice gap include:
“Literally millions of Americans are without access to justice for lack of financial resources, information or will in the face of overwhelming obstacles, despite the fact that our nation was founded on the conviction of ‘justice for all.’ It is the responsibility of every lawyer in this room to deliver on that promise,” she argued to the ALI audience. “I’m willing to try. I hope you are too.”