Assessing Justice Needs Across the United States

In the first comprehensive study of its kind, HiiL partnered with the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) to map out the legal problems people across the US face in their everyday lives. We asked: What problems do American people face accessing justice on a national scale? How they seek to solve them and what works in securing fair resolutions, among other questions.

Partner(s)

Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS)

Year

2019 - 2020

Country

USA

Person in charge

Dr. Martin Gramatikov

Whether in the Netherlands or Nigeria, HiiL has found that all countries have an array of unmet justice needs, no matter how developed the country is or how robust their legal system is—and the United States is no different.

In the first comprehensive study of its kind, HiiL partnered with the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) to map out the legal problems people across the US face in their everyday lives. We asked: What problems do American people face accessing justice on a national scale? How they seek to solve them and what works in securing fair resolutions, among other questions.

“Access to justice is not an issue affecting only developing countries,” said Dr. Martin Gramatikov Director of Measuring Justice at HiiL. “¨In fact, we can state that oftentimes, the more developed a nation is, the more justice needs exist in the population, and the greater the challenge of access to justice for all. That is why we specifically chose to bring our experience and survey to the United States.”

 

Project Objectives

  • To develop a greater understanding of the justice needs in the United States to inform and help target reform efforts.
  • To provide courts, legal services providers, and the broader legal community with greater information about the justice needs in our country so that we can ensure those needs are met.
  • To inform a more empirically based approach to reform.

Together, HiiL and IAALS developed and administered a survey nationally to over 10,000 Americans, and has compiled the research for release in a report and interactive online dashboards to help visualize the various justice needs across the United States. This research is vital in the fight to provide real-world solutions tailored to the current problems that Americans and businesses face in their pursuit of justice, no matter where they reside and no matter how much they earn.

Highlights from the report

The results of the survey provide a clear picture regarding the landscape of legal problems in the United States. 

  • Access to justice is a broad societal problem—66% of the population experienced at least one legal issue in the past four years, with just 49% of those problems having been completely resolved. 
  • There is no income group, gender, race or ethnic group, age group, or geographic area that does not face a substantial number of legal problems. 
  • On an annual basis, that translates to 55 million Americans who experience 260 million legal problems. A considerable proportion of these problems—120 million—are not resolved or are concluded in a manner that is perceived as unfair. 
  • This study shows that access to justice challenges are significant and pervasive.

 


About HiiL

The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law (HiiL) is an international social enterprise committed to user-friendly justice. Our global mission is to ensure by 2030 that 150 million people can prevent or resolve their most pressing justice problems. To achieve this, we gather data and use evidence-based practices that promote ‘what works’ and help stimulate and scale-up game-changing justice innovations worldwide. 

About IAALS

IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, is a national, independent research center dedicated to facilitating continuous improvement and advancing excellence in the American legal system. Our mission is to forge innovative and practical solutions to problems within the American legal system.

The Bohemian Foundation has generously provided funding to make this project possible.