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Abstract

There are innumerable individual problems of access to civil justice. Civil justice, or its absence, will often determine whether people can keep their homes, their family relationships, their health and well-being, their actual safety, their jobs, and their opportunity for a fair resolution of so many more of the challenges that life presents. There are presently many important efforts that enable people to obtain justice, both through the direct provision of legal services and through the broader pursuit of systemic reforms, such as securing and expanding civil rights to counsel, expanding roles for non-lawyers to empower individuals and communities, making the civil justice system work better for people without legal assistance, and ending excessive court-imposed fines and fees. Is it possible to identify common themes and threads running through the access to justice problems, the direct efforts to help individuals, and the pursuit of a broader reform agenda? Can there be an access to justice “movement” capable of galvanizing public outrage and energy, as the racial justice, criminal justice, immigrants’ rights, Me Too, and other modern movements are doing in their attacks on inequality, poverty, and other manifestations of injustice?

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