Alternative approaches: Pew study finds civil legal problems impacting 47% of US households

After finding the need for civil legal assistance in the United States is widespread across all income levels — and perhaps spread wider than previously thought — The Pew Charitable Trusts sees a need for new solutions to addressing the problems experienced by many individuals and families.

News Story (Indiana, NATIONAL)

Marilyn Odendahl
Indiana Lawyer
January 8, 2020

Tags: Access to Justice, Research/Data, Right to Counsel

Organizations mentioned/involved: Indiana Legal Services (ILS), National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel (NCCRC)


Pew’s call for alternative approaches follows the release of a survey it commissioned, which found one in three U.S. households faced a civil legal issue, such as a problem with housing or employment, in the prior 12 months. Even though, according to Pew, this is the first representative survey in decades to reach across all income levels of the American public, the nonprofit believes the actual incidence of civil disputes is likely higher because the questions did not include a comprehensive list of potential civil legal issues.

“The survey findings suggest that the nation needs new solutions to these civil legal problems,” Erika Rickard, project director of the Pew Civil Legal System Modernization initiative, said. Rickard explained these solutions could include legal assistance portals, which are websites that interact with users, and online dispute resolution services.