How Rising Inequality Has Widened the Justice Gap

Rising inequality has harmed low-income families not only by depriving them of a fair share of society’s income growth, but also in a more specific way: It has stacked the legal system even more heavily against them.


Robert Frank
New York Times (NYT)
August 31, 2018

Tags: Access to Justice

Organizations mentioned/involved: Voices for Civil Justice, Legal Services Corporation (LSC)


According to a recent survey, more than 70 percent of low-income American households had been involved in eviction cases, labor law cases, and other civil legal disputes during the preceding year, and in more than 80 percent of those cases they lacked effective legal representation.

Indigent persons charged with crimes are entitled to state-sponsored lawyers, but here, too, funding shortages are widespread.

The stakes in criminal proceedings are often enormous, but civil disputes often produce life-shattering outcomes as well.

As Martha Bergmark, executive director of Voices for Civil Justice, an advocacy group, put it in an article published by ThinkProgress: “You can lose your children, you can lose your home, you can lose your livelihood without having legal help to get you through complicated legal proceedings.”