Making Justice Accessible: Legal Services for the 21st Century


Making Justice Accessible is a multi-year, multi-phase project designed to explore, better understand, and help address the civil justice gap that exists between the supply and demand for civil legal services in America.

The scholars, practitioners, champions, and policymakers working on the Making Justice Accessible project sought to assess the extent unmet needs, identify the primary causes of the problem, highlight innovative solutions, and recommend nationwide improvements. The data work was led by Mark Hansen and Rebecca Sandefur. Kenneth Frazier, John Levi, and Martha Minow led the design work.

The project produced an explainer video about the civil justice gap and three publications, which are online in their entirety:

  • An issue of Daedalus (the Academy’s quarterly journal), Access to Justice, includes 24 essays about the civil legal services crisis facing poor and low-income Americans: from the challenges of providing quality assistance to more people, to the social and economic costs of an often unresponsive legal system, to the opportunities for improvement offered by new technologies, professional innovations, and fresh approaches to the justice gap.
  • A paper, Measuring Civil Justice for All, provides a blueprint for the collection of data about civil justice activity in the United States. It also describes a range of data access standards that would help to guide the use of civil justice data for administrative and research purposes.
  • The report Civil Justice for All proposes nationwide recommendations to close the gap so that Americans, irrespective of income, have access to legal advice and assistance when they need it most. The recommendations and innovative approaches are rooted in four categories of civil legal problems: family, health care, housing, and veterans affairs.

Following the release of the three publications, the focus of the project is on sharing the research and recommendations to advance awareness of the civil justice gap; increase connectedness among leaders, institutions, and philanthropy to support collaboration on behalf of civil legal services; and fundamentally expand access to justice



Chairs for Design and Data Projects
Design Project Group

Karl W. Eikenberry

The Henry L. Stimson Center
Ambassador and Lieutenant General (retired)
Academy Member

Risa L. Goluboff

University of Virginia School of Law
Dean; Arnold H. Leon Professor of Law; Professor of History
Academy Member

John Mark Hansen

University of Chicago
Charles L. Hutchinson Distinguished Service Professor
Academy Member

David Frank Levi

Duke University School of Law
Levi Family Professor of Law And Director, Bolch Judicial Institute
Academy Member

Lance Malcolm Liebman

Columbia Law School
William S. Beinecke Professor of Law, Director, American Law Institute
Academy Member

Judith Resnik

Yale Law School
Arthur Liman Professor of Law
Academy Member

Diane P. Wood

American Law Institute
Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Academy Member
Data Project Group

Betsy Super

Program Director for American Institutions, Society, and the Public Good


News & Updates

News & Updates