May 25, 2016


Transforming law into an evidence-based field to make the U.S. legal system work for individuals and families who can’t afford lawyers.

The Problem
The portion of the U.S. legal system that deals with people is in permanent crisis. 80% of family cases have a lawyerless litigant. Average caseloads require state public defenders to initiate, investigate, bargain or try, and/or appeal two cases per day. For individuals and families without lawyers, courts are complex, full of jargon, hard to navigate, and scary.

What We Believe
The U.S. legal system can be neither just nor efficient unless lawyers and judges start to rely on evidence-based practices. Only with rigorous information about what works can legal policy makers manage the twin challenges of resource scarcity and increasing claims of unfairness.

What We Do
The Access to Justice (A2J) Lab advances the required transformation by fielding randomized experiments to find what works and then generalizing results into actionable lessons. The Lab creates knowledge, constructs best practices, and trains current and future scholars and practitioners to transform the U.S. legal system.

The Lab has a four-pronged approach to transforming law into a professional founded in empirical research. The core pillars of our method are:

DESIGNING access-to-justice interventions and gold-standard, randomized evaluations.

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IMPLEMENTING randomized control trials to find out what works for individuals and families in civil and criminal law.

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DISSEMINATING lessons learned and best practices to transform the system.

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TRAINING current and future practitioners, scholars, and judges in methods and results to increase capacity and support for rigorous empirical research.

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