Nonlawyer Legal Assistance and Access to Justice
Hurder, Alex J.
Nonlawyer legal assistance is a necessary ingredient of any plan for meaningful access to the courts. The American Bar Association Commission on Nonlawyer Practice found in 1995 "that as many as 70% to 80% or more of low-income persons are unable to obtain legal assistance even when they need and want it." While low income households have the greatest problems of access, many moderate-income households, as well, do not have access to the justice system. The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct contain an overly broad ban on assisting the unauthorized practice of law that discourages judges and lawyers from working with nonlawyers to make courts accessible to the public. Nevertheless, courts, lawyers, and individuals committed to meaningful access to justice are finding new roles for nonlawyers in the legal system.