Cartoon, legal self-help, courtroom, asserting rights

Financial Distress Research Project (FDRP) Launches!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the Access to Justice Lab! In April we launched the Pre-Trial Release Study in Dane County, Wisconsin. A few weeks ago we launched Part 2 of the Debt Collection Default Study in multiple court locations in Massachusetts. We are now excited to officially announce the start of what could turn into the largest RCT ever conducted in the law: the Financial Distress Research Project (“FDRP”)!

Guest Post: Acesso à Justiça: O Grande Desafio / Access to Justice: The Great Challenge

Jéssica Raiane

The A2J Lab receives many comments, inquiries, and questions via the website. Most come from U.S. attorneys and researchers. From time to time, though, we are lucky to hear from others around the world committed to making their court systems more open and their legal procedures more transparent. One such kindred spirit is Jéssica Raiane, an attorney living in Goianésia, Goias, Brazil. She kindly has shared her thoughts on the challenges facing A2J proponents in her home country. The original Portuguese post is followed by an English translation.

Problem of Default Study Part 2 Launches!

And we’re off!

The Brooke Courthouse in downtown Boston.

Last week we launched Part 2 of the Debt Collection Default Study, kicking off with Boston Municipal Court (BMC) Central Division civil and small claims cases.

To set the scene: about 65-90% of people who are sued in debt collection proceedings across the country default, or lose their cases, because they don’t show up to court. At the BMC and many other courts in the Boston metro area, volunteer lawyers stand ready to assist defendants when they do show up. People might not show up for a variety of reasons. Maybe they think the debt is paid already. The plaintiff company might have the wrong person. The defendant is afraid of appearing in court. Or, she doesn’t know what’s expected of her from the Court Notice. Whatever the reason, access to justice surely suffers when half of the players don’t show up to the game.

Guest Post: Eviction in Arizona Part II, The Simpla Phi Solution

A couple weeks ago, A2J Lab affiliate Daniel Bernal introduced some of the glaring gaps in access to justice that defendants in summary eviction proceedings experience in Arizona. This week, he dives a little deeper into his own fascinating research.

The Simpla Phi Solution

Five-years ago, Judge Dean Christoffel forged a partnership between the Pima County Superior Court, the University of Arizona, and the James E. Rogers College of Law with the explicit goal of making courts more accessible. This team took the name Simpla Phi Lex and primarily worked to revise pleading forms and create self-help materials for self-represented litigants.

Research Award Granted for Financial Distress Research Project

It’s a good day for empiricism in the law!

Dalié Jiménez, Associate Professor of Law at UConn School of Law

Professor Dalié Jiménez, an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Connecticut School of Law who works with the Lab on the Financial Distress Research Project (FDRP), was just awarded $25,000 through the Research Excellence Program at the University of Connecticut to support the FDRP.

The FDRP has been in planning for over 6 years, and is a partnership across multiple branches of government, academia, multiple non-profit service providers, and the private sector. It will enable us to evaluate rigorously, and therefore better understand the effectiveness of self-help material, attorney representation, and financial counseling.  The Project will bring knowledge of what works and what doesn’t for individuals in financial distress to the next level. Rigorous evidence like this is does not yet exist. The Project will be launched within the next couple weeks in Connecticut, and has been written about in MarketWatch, insideARM, and the Stamford Advocate.

Congratulations to Professor Jiménez!

Stay tuned for updates as we get ready to launch this project.

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Top Ten A2J Research Priorities: #2

And we’re back with our Top 10 A2J Research Priorities YouTube series! This time, Faculty Director Jim Greiner talks about triage in the civil context.

As a reminder, we at the Lab have come up with a list of what we consider to be the top 10 access to justice research priorities. This list will be published weekly on our YouTube channel, in quick 2-3 minute videos to wake you up and get you excited about how ripe the field of access to justice is for experimentation, research, and, of course, RCTs.

Here’s our second installment:

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Guest Post: Eviction in Arizona Part I

Today we hear from A2J Lab Affiliate Daniel W. Bernal, a J.D./Ph.D. student at the James E. Rogers College of Law and the University of Arizona. Daniel has been conducting research on evictions in Arizona with an eye toward access gaps in summary proceedings. His research is culminating in an RCT (!) testing the effectiveness of self-help materials for pro se tenant litigants. We’ll hear from Daniel in a series of blog posts.

Top 10 A2J Research Priorities: #1

We at the Lab have come up with a list of what we consider to be the top 10 access to justice research priorities. It’s Monday morning. . . we won’t make you read about these. Instead, our top 10 list will be published weekly on our YouTube channel, in quick 2-3 minute videos to wake you up and get you excited about how ripe the field of access to justice is for experimentation, research, and, of course, RCTs.

Here’s our first installment.

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Grading School Voucher Programs

Why RCTs?: School Choice

Everyone seems to have an opinion on school choice. Those favoring or trying to forestall the dismantling of residential barriers have fought loud, hard battles in the states. Interestingly, these battles haven’t necessarily pitted political partisans against each other. The “choice” bloc recently witnessed a vocal spokesperson, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, rise to prominence. She has advocated passionately for implementing more voucher systems and giving parents and students more perceived opportunity to succeed where the current public school system, some claim, clearly cannot.

Exciting Job Opp. at the National Center for Access to Justice

Our friends at the National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ) at Fordham Law School are hiring! They are looking for someone trained in law, policy analysis, or data analysis (or some mix of the three) to strengthen the Center’s Justice Index. See here for details about the position and how to apply.

From NCAJ’s job posting:

NCAJ is currently updating and expanding its Justice Index, writing a guide for civil legal aid organizations on using data to reveal the value of civil legal aid in people’s lives, and helping to implement UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 which calls on all countries of the world to use data to assure access to justice. The Justice Index, justiceindex.org, is NCAJ’s online tool that promotes reform in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. by using data to rank states on their degree of adoption of best policies and practices for access to justice.

The new staff member will contribute to NCAJ’s projects and to its growth as an institution. Activities include, among others, research, writing, data analysis, speaking, advocacy, grant writing and reporting, and supervision of volunteer attorneys and students.

Sounds exciting!

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