Put heads together to the Brennan Centre for Justice at New York University, 80% of low income people have suffering tracking down legal representation or otherwise get into the civil court system to keep their property, family, and livelihood. Sadly, that number has shown practically no movement in the past quarter of a century. The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services says even moderate income Americans struggle with access to representation, often make an attempt to handle legal mattershort of an attorney or taking no action at all.
When you consider about access to justice problems, the cost of legal representation is almost certainly the first obstruction that comes to mind. Cost is a barrier for many Americans in need of legal services, but it’s not the only one.
Geography as a Barrier to Legal Representation
In recent years, studies in several states have discovered that geography plays a major role in access to legal representation.
Low-income Californians in the state have trouble accessing legal services, but those in rural areas face extra challenges. There are fewer legal aid lawyers in rural areas than in urban areas and few private lawyers to fill the gaps. Inadequate or unavailable public transportation makes it difficult to access legal services, for the most part with the large distances between legal aid offices that are typical of rural areas.
In addition to the problems that face low-income individuals in rural areas, private attorneys are now gathering to urban areas; this “rural flight” hold back access to traditional paid legal services for rural residents, as well as the opportunity for services for low-income individuals. Rural areas account for up to one-fifth of the population of the country, but only two percent of law practices.
Other Access to Justice Barriers
Other practical barriers stance between attorneys and the public who need their services—barriers such as transportation, work hours and the availability or cost of child care. While these complications may sound small to a person who has bendable work hours, a reliable car and children old enough to stay home alone, they are often the stopping point for people already stretched too thin in terms of both time and money.
Legal Representation Matters in Consumer Debt Cases
Few consumers fully understand the foundation a debt collector must start in order to obtain a judgment, or know how to present defences in the courtroom. As a result, the vast majority of consumer debt cases end in a judgment for the collector or debt buyer, often by default. But, those numbers shift dramatically when the consumer has the knowledgeable assistance of an attorney. The New York State Courts Access to Justice Program employs a “Volunteer Lawyer for the Day” system in consumer debt cases, and attorneys are able to either obtain a dismissal or negotiate a settlement on the day of demonstration in more than half of all cases.
Modern Technology Offers Solutions
For decades, the challenges obtainable by geography, time conflicts, transportation, and family obligations appeared difficult or unbearable to overcome. Today, a permutation of widespread Internet access and legal innovation allows Upright Law to hit down the barriers created by geography, time conflicts, travel restrictions and even young children.
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