Don’t Have Enough Money For A Lawyer? You’re Stuck In The “Justice Gap.”
Adrianna Ngo Student, UC Berkeley
CQF-avocat from Pixabay
Navigating the American legal system is complicated and complex, especially if you don’t have a lawyer.
Many Americans assume they cannot afford a lawyer, due to the high costs associated with hiring one in a traditional way.
Attorneys can have hourly fees ranging from $200 and $400 depending on how much experience they have and the specific case they are working on.
These expensive rates force many low-to-moderate income Americans onto one side of the justice gap — the space between people who need legal help and the lawyers who can meet those needs.
According to the World Justice Project, approximately 5 billion people have unmet justice needs and fall into the justice gap.
In more than 75 percent of all civil trial cases in the United States, at least one litigant does not have an attorney representing them.
What does “justice gap” mean?
The justice gap illustrates the number of people who cannot obtain legal representation.
According to the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in 2017, out of the 1.7 million civil legal problems addressed by low-income Americans, only half a million received any sort of legal assistance or aid.
The World Justice Program estimates that 1.5 billion people are unable to obtain justice for civil, criminal justice, or administrative problems. These victims face obstacles every day in terms of accessing legal equity.
Why do we need Access to Justice?
Finding legal services that can address your needs is crucial because many individuals are unaware of their legal rights and do not have the proper legal aid they need.
Researchers at Harvard Law School found that when individuals use self-help resources rather than professional legal help, their outcome in court is not satisfactory.
They performed a randomized study and monitored a group of low-income divorce-seekers that used self-help resources, such as low bono aid and materials, to develop their case.
Only 5 percent managed to end their divorces without an attorney.
Another study found that when tenants go to court with a lawyer to fight eviction, they win or settle their cases 96% of the time.
The assistance of an attorney can make a huge difference in your case.
What are some ways to provide Access to Justice?
The most common ways organizations provide access to justice is through legal clinics, LSC-funded legal aid organizations, and pro bono attorneys — lawyers that donate their time and services to help clients who cannot afford legal assistance.
LawHelp is a non-profit platform that has referrals to different legal clinics, programs, and free legal forms that could aid you. They provide an accessible state by state directory for these resources.
The LSC has donated funds to approximately 134 legal aid organizations in every state. To find one near you, check out this site.
To find accessible pro-bono attorneys and organizations in your state, the American Bar Association has provided a Pro-Bono Resource Directory for your convenience.
All of these resources, although very necessary, are limited in capacity. The demand for legal aid far outweighs the resources available.
The American Bar Association released a report on the Future Legal Services of the United States and found that more collaboration between researchers and legal services are needed to close the justice gap.
Court Buddy is one new type of solution. We are a legal-tech company that addresses the issue of the justice gap.
With an affordable fixed price for each legal service and a thorough attorney matching process, Court Buddy guarantees easy and affordable legal service.
You can sign up to find a qualified lawyer here.