329: Access to Justice
2 - 4
This course will examine important issues around access to civil justice, including the history of civil legal aid, current delivery systems and funding models, increased self-representation of litigants in the court system, and potential solutions to bridge the gap between the growing need for civil legal assistance and available resources.
To most effectively explore these issues, the course is divided into three components: bi-weekly seminars, several experiential activities and a research project. Each is described briefly below.
(1) The bi-weekly seminars will provide necessary framework and context for the experiential learning activities and the research projects. Our seminar will begin with an overview of the challenges of ensuring access to civil justice, with each subsequent seminar analyzing more specific and complex access-oriented issues related to everything from the various actors in the civil justice system to innovations in the delivery of legal services.
(2) Each student will complete a research project with course faculty providing supervision. Completed research projects will assist the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice and other legal and judicial system stakeholders. To be successful in these projects, students will be expected to complete legal research, in-depth legal reasoning and policy analysis. Depending on class size, these projects may be assigned to students to work in pairs. In addition to the written work-product, students will present and answer questions about their research to a panel of access to justice experts at the last class of the semester.
(3) Finally, at various intervals throughout the semester, and as identified in the syllabus below, students will be asked to complete a series of experiential activities that will be incorporated into class discussions. These experiential activities will increase students’ understanding of access to justice issues.
Students will be required to spend 120 hours completing the experiential activities and research project assigned during the semester.