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
Date Written: September 1, 2012
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: Suggested Citation