Access to Justice Commissions

What is an Access to Justice Commission? The mission of any Access to Justice Commission or similar entity is to ensure that access to competent legal representation is available to everyone despite income level, disability, or other disadvantage.  At a minimum this formal organization should be a collaboration between the courts, the private bar, and legal services organizations. Other branches of government, funders, law schools, and other interested entities should be included whenever possible. 

(See the ABA’s definition of Access to Justice Commission).

Why states need an Access to Justice Commission or similar entity?  The benefits of such a commission develop based on the greater collaboration and sharing of assets and information.  The commission provides an entity to coordinate and represent the various disparate groups involved in the provision of legal services to the poor.


Access to Justice Commissions: Lessons from Two States. Trends in State Courts 2014. National Center for State Courts.

Sandefur, Rebecca L. Accessing Justice in the Contemporary USA:  Findings from the Community Needs and Services Study. American Bar Foundation. (August 2014). This report presents findings from a new study of public experience with civil justice situations, the Community Needs and Services Study (CNSS), funded by the National Science Foundation and the American Bar Foundation.

Sandefur, Rebecca and Aaron C. Smyth. Access Across America First Report of the Civil Justice Infrastructure Mapping Project. American Bar Foundation. (OCTOBER 2011). This report provides a state-by-state review of the accessibility of civil legal assistance in the United States.

Office of Child Support Enforcement Fact Sheet Access to Justice Innovations Administration for Children and Families, Office of Health and Human Services. (June 2012).


Canadian Forum on Civil Justice.   The Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters has emerged as a voice for system wide improvements. 

Reaching Equal Justice: An Invitation to Envision and Act (August 2013). Canadian Bar Association. This summary report provides an overview of issues and problems related to Access to Justice in Canada. 

Access to Justice State Initiatives

ABA Innovation grant Alabama – Online SRL Pro Bono Support

2007 Status Report of the Alaska Supreme Court Fairness and Access Implementation Committee


Arizona Commission on Access to Justice Report to the Arizona Judicial Council (March 2015)


Access to Justice in Rural Arkansas, Arkansas Access to Justice Commission (March 2015). This policy brief indicates that rural counties average fewer than 0.44 practicing attorneys per 1,000 residents. 
ABA Innovation grant Arkansas: Assisted pro se/limited scope pilot

Greacen, John M. Services for Self-Represented Litigants in Arkansas A Report to the Arkansas Access to Justice Commission. Final Report Adopted July 26, 2013

California Commission on Access to Justice — 2011 Annual Report

Improving Civil Justice in Rural California Executive Summary Edition California Commission on Access to Justice. (2010).

ABA Innovation grant Colorado: Affordable unbundled legal services

Talmage, Constance C. 2008 ATJ Commission Report. The Colorado Lawyer (April 2009)

ABA Innovation grant Connecticut: Corporate–funded legal aid fellowships

Access to Justice Commission Annual Report. Connecticut Judicial Branch ( October 2012).   This is the first annual report of the Access to Justice Commission chaired by Hon. Raymond R. Norko.

Delaware Access to Justice Order, November 13, 2013

District of Columbia
"Justice for All? An Examination of the Civil Legal Needs of the District of Columbia's Low-Income Community." District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission (2008).

Rationing Justice: The Effect of the Recession on Access to Justice in the District of Columbia.” District of Columbia Access to Justice Commission (2009).

Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice

ABA Innovation grant Hawaii: Language access & cultural bias

Hawaii Access to Justice Commission Annual Reports

Illinois Supreme Court creates new 11-member Access to Justice Commission. (June 2012).

Indiana Commission to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services.  (September 23, 2013).

Report of the Joint Iowa Judges Association and Iowa State Bar Association Task Force on Pro Se Litigation(May 2005).

Supreme Court Rule Relating to Access to Justice Committee

Chief Justice Minton's remarks(October 2010).


Louisiana Supreme Court establishes Access to Justice Commission November 11, 2015.

ABA Innovation grant Maine: 'Lawyers in Libraries' project

Justice for All: A Report of the Justice Action Group. (2009).


Maryland celebrates launch of newly reformed Access to Justice Commission (February 2016). 

The Task Force to Study Implementing a Civil Right to Counsel will study whether low-income Marylanders should have the right to counsel at public expense in basic human needs civil cases, such as those involving shelter, sustenance, safety, health, or child custody.

ABA Innovation grant Massachusetts: Engaging new funding partners

Fein, Honorable Dina E. & Sandra E. Lundy. 2011 Annual Report on the Access to Justice Initiative In the Trial Court. (June 2012).

Documenting the Justice Gap in Michigan. State Bar of Michigan in collaboration with Michigan Legal Services Corporation funded providers. (Spring 2012).

Legal Services Planning Commission Final Report.

ABA Innovation grant Mississippi: New service delivery partners

Mississippi Access to Justice Commission Report (2010).

Montana Supreme Court creates new Access to Justice Commission. (May 2012).

The Supreme Court of Nevada created a permanent Access to Justice Commission in June 2006 to promote equal civil justice.

New Hampshire
CHALLENGE TO JUSTICE Findings and Recommendations of the New Hampshire Supreme Court Task Force on Self-Representation (January 2004).

New Mexico
ABA Innovation grant New Mexico: Diagnostic tool to assess potential for self–representation

Summary of 2011 Pro Bono Committee Annual Reports . Access to Justice Commission. (2012).

New York
New York State Courts Access to Justice Program  (2015)

North Carolina

ABA Innovation grant North Carolina: Veterans Online Resources

The Economic Impact to the State of North Carolina of Civil Legal Services in 2012. North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission. (February 2014).


Report and Recommendations of the Supreme Court of Ohio Task Force on Access to Justice (March 2015). The Task Force recommends that the Supreme Court work with an independent organization to lead access to justice initiatives in Ohio.

On March 13, 2014 the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued an order establishing an Access to Justice Commission.

TOWARD EQUAL JUSTICE FOR ALL: Report of the Civil Legal Justice Coalition to the Pennsylvania State Senate Judiciary Committee April 2014. Recommends forming an Access to Justice Commission.

South Carolina
2008 Public Hearings of the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission . (April 2009).


Economic Impact of Civil Legal Aid Organizations in Tennessee. Civil Justice for low Income People Produces Ripple Effects that Benefit Every Segment of the Community (March 2015). 
ABA Innovation grant Tennessee: Faith–based pro bono clinics

Tennessee Access to Justice Commission 2014 STRATEGIC PLAN.

Report of the Texas Access to Justice Commission to the Supreme Court of Texas for the period December 1, 2011 through May 31, 2012(June 2012). This report summarizes the work of each committee on the Commission.

ABA Innovation grant Vermont: On–line referral from legal aid intake site to limited scope panel 

Supreme Court of Virginia Establishes Access to Justice Commission (September 13, 2013).

ABA Innovation grant Washington State: E–access to court records

Washington Access to Justice Board Annual Report (2012)

West Virginia
Recommendations of the West Virginia Access to Justice Commission (2013).

2009: Access to Justice in West Virginia Remarks of Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent D. Benjamin. The West Virginia Lawyer. (January - February 2009).

Access to Justice Commission Video (2012).

ABA Innovation grant Wyoming: Skype–based remote law offices at rural sites

A Call to Action to Establish a Statewide Program . Wyoming Access to Justice Commission. (December 2009).