Access to Justice: Looking Back, Thinking Ahead

17 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017

See all articles by Deborah Rhode

Deborah Rhode

Stanford Law School

Scott L. Cummings

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Date Written: September 29, 2017


This Article seeks to assess our progress and reassess our goals concerning access to justice. It begins in Part I by summarizing the nature of the challenge. Although there is much we do not know about the scope of the problem, the data available suggest a shameful inadequacy of services for the poor and a declining commitment of federal funds to address it. The remainder of the Article explores the most plausible responses. Part II reviews the role of technology, self-help, and nonlawyer services. Part III analyzes the extent of pro bono contributions and what can be done to increase them. Part IV surveys the evolution and contributions of public interest law, and how best to support it. Part V concludes with an agenda for reducing the justice gap. It argues for greater involvement of legal educators and practitioners in expanding understanding of the problem and supporting the most cost-effective solutions.

Keywords: public interest law, access to justice, pro bono services

Suggested Citation

Rhode, Deborah and Cummings, Scott L., Access to Justice: Looking Back, Thinking Ahead (September 29, 2017). 30 Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics 485 (2017); UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-31; Stanford Public Law Working Paper. Available at SSRN:

Deborah Rhode

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
650 723.0319 (Phone)

Scott L. Cummings (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

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