This is how we fight back: Race, big banks and a secret weapon for justice

There's a way to surprise the system and battle for your job, home and rights -- more people need to know about it
News Story (NATIONAL)

Daniel Denvir
May 19, 2016

Tags: Justice for All

Organizations mentioned/involved: National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ) at Fordham Law School, Community Legal Services (CLS) of Philadelphia, Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS)


Many poor people with civil legal needs, however, face important matters in court alone because unlike in criminal proceedings, there is no recognized right to an attorney in civil court. And a lot of really big issues come up in civil court. Eviction. Debt collection. Child custody. A protection order against an abuser.

“The cost of legal assistance is prohibitively high for working people,” says David Udell, executive director of the National Center for Access to Justice at Cardozo Law School. “People too often do not realize that the civil justice system in many ways involves matters that are just as high stakes as criminal matters…if forced to choose, for many of us, a night in prison might be preferable to facing the permanent loss of our legal right to parent and raise our own biological child.”

There are nearly 110 million Americans so poor that they qualify for free legal aid, according to the center’s recently-released Justice Index 2016. But there is less than one civil legal aid lawyer for every 10,000 of them.