Lauren Sudeall

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Fordham Law Review Online

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access to justice, civil law, criminal law, justice, justice reform


Civil Law | Courts | Criminal Law | Law


Last fall, advocates of social change came together at the A2J Summit at Fordham University School of Law and discussed how to galvanize a national access to justice movement - who would it include, and what would or should it attempt to achieve? One important preliminary question we tackled was how such a movement would define "justice," and whether it would apply only to the civil justice system. Although the phrase "access to justice" is not exclusively civil in nature, more often than not it is taken to have that connotation. Lost in the interpretation is an opportunity to engage in a broader, more holistic conversation about what justice entails and what is required to gain access to it. Rather than remaining constrained by the typology of "criminal justice reform" or "access to (civil) justice" as two distinct bases for advocacy, we should focus on how individuals navigate a system (with both legal and non-legal components) that controls fundamental aspects of their lives - safety, shelter, family, and their liberty - whether at will or by force. In doing so, we can think more broadly about how individuals relate to the courts, how and when they receive information about the process, and how the way in which the government and the courts manage disputes impacts their lives.



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