Academy Article
Spring 2024

Making Justice Accessible Summit


As part of its Making Justice Accessible project, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences hosted a Summit in March 2024 to bring together a diverse group of participants to address the civil justice gap. The Academy's work in this area is led by John Levi (Legal Services Corporation) and Martha Minow (Harvard Law School) -- guided by scholars, practitioners, champions, and policymakers -- and funded by David M. Rubenstein.

The Summit’s sessions and workshops showcased innovative models, projects, and developments that are making significant strides in addressing the civil justice gap. The Summit aimed to deepen understanding of how civil justice efforts intersect with broader public interest movements, including in civics, arts, humanities, housing, criminal justice, and corporate social responsibility. Videos from the Summit are available as part of a commitment to expanding awareness and interest in responding to the gap between people seeking civil justice and the availability of services. 

The event was held as part of Expanding Access to Justice, which is the final phase of the Academy's Making Justice Accessible project.

Opening remarks were delivered by John Levi (Legal Services Corporation), Co-Chair of the Academy’s Making Justice Accessible Advisory Committee. Levi emphasized the urgent need to address the civil justice gap in the United States, highlighted progress made over the past decade, and underscored the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration to reimagine and improve the civil justice system. He called for ongoing coordination of national efforts to ensure equal access to justice for all Americans.

The keynote address (available at the link below) was provided by Bethany Hamilton, Co-Director of the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnerships. There were also four plenary sessions and breakout sessions to brainstorm new ideas and deepen participant connections.

Key Objectives of the Summit:

  • Enhancing Cross-Field Support: Facilitating connections between philanthropy and civil justice sectors to raise awareness and promote partnerships with community-based organizations.
  • Showcasing Impact Opportunities: Exploring ways to support civil justice initiatives through formal workshops led by legal design experts, deepening conversations about the benefits and challenges of engaging civil justice professionals in existing efforts.
  • Shaping a New Narrative: Emphasizing the need to prioritize people-centric approaches to justice work and underscoring the role of an effective, accessible justice system in sustaining democracy through community integration, innovation, and change.

Videos from the Making Justice Accessible Summit:

The Academy has a multi-year, multi-faceted approach to addressing the challenge of civil justice in America.