Legal representation & divorce

A randomized control trial evaluating the effectiveness of a pro bono initiative’s oversubscribed divorce practice in a large United States city.  Our study randomized a person seeking a divorce to one of two options: (a) an effort to find a free attorney to represent her, or (b) a referral to existing self-help resources coupled with an offer to answer questions by telephone. Treated and control groups experienced radically different outcomes: people with an attorney were significantly more likely to have a divorce case on record within 18 months after entering the study, and were significantly more likely to have gotten the divorce they were seeking within 3 years.

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Legal representation & Social Security disability

A randomized control trial evaluating the effect of legal services representation in disability benefits cases before an administrative law judge. In this study, adults seeking to appeal an earlier decision about their eligibility for disability benefits were randomized to either (a) representation or (b) no representation.

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Mediation in federal court

A randomized control trial evaluating the effect of a formal mediation session with inmates in federal prison with civil rights complaints. This study is the first of any kind to evaluate an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program rigorously on multiple dimensions, including court and party expenditure of resources, litigant opinions of the judicial process and the result, and nature of the parties’ post-litigation relationship.

Read more about the mediation study