Access to Justice; Litigation; Reform; Liability; Contracts; Contracting Liability; Professional Responsibility; Legal Ethics; Tort Reform; Civil Procedure; Constitutional Law


On October 27, 2017, the Stein Center for Law and Ethics in conjunction with the Fordham Law Review hosted a Colloquium entitled Access to Justice and the Legal Profession in an Era of Contracting Civil Liability. This issue of the Fordham Law Review publishes the articles prepared for that Colloquium. Traversing tort reform, constitutional rights, federal courts, civil procedure, and legal ethics, the small Colloquium was cross-disciplinary with a vengeance. Happily, these contributions from scholars around the country have now coalesced into a coherent whole. Although the Colloquium topic is not part of the access-to-justice movement as usually defined, it makes sense to say a few words in advance about access to justice because contracting civil liability is a complementary theme and, indeed, because the National Center for Access to Justice has recently joined Fordham Law School (and thus provided further impetus for exploring this critically important area). For the most art, the access-to-justice movement identifies the formal and informal barriers ordinary people must surmount in order to enforce their rights effectively and to be duly protected from civil and criminal liability. Lawyers, funding, information, evidence, physical access, legal aid asymmetries in representation—these are only the beginnings of the host of challenges most individuals face, barriers that have an especially marked impact for the poorest in our society. As substantive legal rights, powers, and protections expanded in the 1960s and1970s, profound limitations in the means to access to those rights became even clearer. To its enormous credit, the access-to-justice movement has begun to mobilize lawyers and judges. There is an increasing recognition that our special privileges as members of the bar and bench come with a responsibility to see to it that the legal system is serving society’s members tolerably well and to repair it where it is broken. It is therefore both appropriate and, now, unsurprising to see access-to-justice concerns as part of the academic field of professional responsibility and legal ethics.


Law; Litigation; Civil Procedure; Constitutional Law; Judges; Courts; Torts; Contracts; Legislation; Legal Profession; Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility; Legal Remedies