Monday, September 29, 2014
Conference on Advancing Equal Access to Justice: Barriers, Dilemmas, and Prospects
University of California Hastings College of the Law and Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, Stanford Law School
November 12-13, 2015
San Francisco, California
Conference Scope and Purpose
This conference has both scholarly and practical objectives. Its focus is on identifying and redressing inequalities and dysfunctions within the United States civil justice system, with a particular emphasis on California. We are seeking papers that enhance our empirical and conceptual understandings of the most pressing short-term and long-term challenges affecting the accessibility, availability, and quality of civil legal assistance and representation for low and middle income individuals. We are especially interested in papers that propose specific civil justice policy and practice reforms and that critically examine not only direct benefits and costs but also potential overall societal and institutional consequences. We also want to review papers that rely on empirical research and/or new conceptual insights for critiquing and improving or altering our traditional legal processes and mechanisms including but not solely limited to courts. In meeting these objectives, we invite studies and proposals from abroad and other states as well as ones now being undertaken in California. In addition to the usual participants in discussions concerning access to justice, our target audience for the conference includes judges, legislators, other public officials, bar leaders, community activists from business, labor, minority, and grassroots organizations, and interested lawyers and academic colleagues.
The conference will take place over 1 ½ days. There will be opening, first-day luncheon, and closing luncheon speakers. The bulk of the program will consist of panel presentations and follow-up small group discussions. In this announcement, we are inviting proposals for research papers for panel presentations.
We anticipate that there will be three sequential panel sessions: The first will focus on proposals for making lawyers available at less or no cost; the second will examine ideas for improving self-help assistance and expanding the roles of non-lawyers; and the third will address issues concerning underlying political and legal conditions implicated when seeking to reform our civil justice system and potential short-term and long-term institutional consequences were specific reforms to become operational.
Each panel will have a moderator, two paper presenters, and a commentator. The moderator will be someone who is familiar with the specific subject matter and can place the research and reforms suggested into an overall framework for thinking about equal access to justice concerns. In reviewing panel presentation submissions, we hope to have proposals that collectively utilize a range of empirical and non-empirical research methodologies. The role of the fourth member on the panel will not be to counter what has been presented but to raise additional issues and concerns to be considered during the subsequent small group discussions.
Potential Research Paper Themes
We invite proposals on topics of your own framing consistent with the conference’s general purpose. Illustrative of our more particular concerns, we set forth below several specific themes and issues grouped by proposed panel presentation session. We are not seeking to cover all these matters but rather offer them as examples of potential research topics. As noted above, we anticipate only two research paper presentations at each panel session.
A. Availability and Accessibility of Lawyers
1. Techniques and limitations regarding the encouragement and provision of pro bono and low fee counsel: E.g., mandatory pro bono reporting; conditioned early admission to the bar; post-law school incubators through various organizations including law schools; overcoming lawyer-supply/client-demand discrepancies and inefficiencies.
2. Civil Gideon and fallback measures: E.g., constitutional and statutory prospects and obstacles; quantitative and qualitative reports on the benefits, costs, and effectiveness of targeted and limited expansion of the right to civil counsel within California and from other states and abroad; perspectives and approaches for determining when having a lawyer is likely to be most efficacious for clients and how to measure the utility or value of having a lawyer.
3. Legal aid practice and funding: E.g., precariousness of governmental, foundation and charitable funding; evaluating IOLTA programs; developing new sources of funding; rethinking client criteria for receiving free legal assistance; assessing the barriers to and benefits and costs of utilizing advances in legal technology.
B. Self-Help and Non-Lawyer or Mixed Models for Providing Legal Services
1. Restructuring legal practice: E.g., authorizing for-profit, nonprofessional corporations as providers of legal services; unbundling of legal services; establishing limited licensure; revising related ethical rules, principles and values; evaluating the quality, feasibility and costs of services provided through legal insurance and by entities such as LegalZoom; critically examining assumptions regarding the insufficient availability and uneven distribution of lawyers.
2. Triaging legal services—where, when, how and for whom: E.g., developing standards for determining who gets what kind of service; measuring the impact of differentiated types of service; establishing and evaluating screening and referral mechanisms; rethinking the roles of judges and non-judicial personnel at the courthouse; drawing on lessons from the healthcare profession.
3. Improving self-help measures: E.g., examining client self-awareness of potential civil law situations; evaluating the effectiveness of online programs that provide referral or substantive information, downloadable forms, or formal documents filing; assessing developments in legal self-help publishing.
C. Underlying Structural and Consequential Institutional Implications
1. The relationship of the justice gap to inequalities of income and demographic differences: E.g., measuring the justice gap; comparing outcomes in family law or other selected subject areas taking into account the availability of counsel or the lack thereof and also income status; tracking the accessibility and quality of legal assistance by race, ethnicity, gender and geography; ethical and social implications of an existing and/or widening justice gap; redressing language, cultural and disability barriers.
2. Societal and institutional consequences of shifting away from resolving disputes in adversarial and/or public proceedings: E.g., examining the jurisprudential and political effects of such a shift presently and prospectively; comparing due process protections and equality imbalances in adversarial and inquisitorial proceedings drawing on court case studies from abroad and administrative agency examples domestically; weighing the jurisprudential and practical effects of trial judges assuming an enhanced role as legal and social services facilitators; re-conceptualizing and reconfiguring the courthouse as a place for seeking legal assistance and related services; identifying and assessing the impacts of such changes for law schools and legal education.
SUBMISSION PROCESS AND DEADLINES
Individuals interested in presenting a research and/or policy reform panel session paper should submit a prospectus summary of no more than a 1000 words describing the paper’s proposed topic, themes, and research methodologies by no later than Wednesday, November 12, 2014. This summary should be sent as an email attachment to the conference organizers— Mark Aaronson email@example.com, Juliet Brodie firstname.lastname@example.org, Joseph Grodin email@example.com, Deborah Rhode firstname.lastname@example.org, Lucy Ricca email@example.com, Gail Silverstein firstname.lastname@example.org, and Nancy Stuart email@example.com.
A near-final draft of the paper, for review by the conference organizers and program speakers and panel participants, will be due on Monday, October 5, 2015. Travel expenses will be paid for individuals whose papers are selected for presentation at the conference. There is also the prospect that the papers presented will be considered for publication in a symposium issue of the Hastings Law Journal or Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly.