How Effective Are Limited Legal Assistance Programs? A Randomized Experiment in a Massachusetts Housing Court

50 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2011 Last revised: 3 Sep 2012

D. James Greiner

Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Cassandra Wolos Pattanayak

Harvard University - Department of Statistics

Jonathan Philip Hennessy

Harvard University - Department of Statistics

Date Written: September 1, 2012

Abstract

We persuaded entities conducting a civil Gideon pilot program in summary eviction cases to allow us to randomize which potential clients would receive offers of traditional attorney-client relationships from oversubscribed legal aid staff attorneys and which would be referred to a lawyer for the day program. We examine outcomes related to whether matters not yet in litigation reached court, possession of the unit, monetary consequences of non-payment of rent cases, and court burden. We find no statistically significant evidence that the Provider's offer of full, as opposed to limited, representation had a large (or any) effect on any outcome of substantive import. We explore several possible interpretations of our results, and we caution against both over-interpretation and under-interpretation.

Keywords: legal aid, limited legal assistance, randomized experiment, housing, summary eviction

JEL Classification: I38

Suggested Citation

Greiner, D. James and Pattanayak, Cassandra Wolos and Hennessy, Jonathan Philip, How Effective Are Limited Legal Assistance Programs? A Randomized Experiment in a Massachusetts Housing Court (September 1, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1880078 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1880078

Daniel James Greiner (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Center on the Legal Profession ( email )

1585 Massachusetts Avenue
Wasserstein Hall, Suite 5018
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
(617) 496-4643 (Phone)

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Cassandra Wolos Pattanayak

Harvard University - Department of Statistics ( email )

Science Center 7th floor
One Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138-2901
United States

Jonathan Hennessy

Harvard University - Department of Statistics ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
602
Rank
76,456
Abstract Views
2,320