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Access to Justice: Is More Access Enough? (Program)

Scott Cummings, UCLA School of Law (US); David Luban, Georgetown University Law Center (US); Rebecca Roiphe, New York Law School (US); and Melissa Mortazavi, University of Oklahoma School of Law (US) (Moderator)

Access to Justice: Is More Access Enough?

This roundtable discussion examines how access to law is conceptually situated and asks the question: is more access enough? Specifically, access to law is often thought of in terms of increasing access to legal services and legal institutions for the poor and legally disenfranchised. However it is unclear, particularly in an adversary system, whether increasing access alone can alleviate or address the structural inequity that arises when adversaries are unequally matched in terms of expertise, resources, and even legal savvy. This panel will discuss whether the goal of more access can address the underlying issue of a lack of fair protection and adjudication under the law. Can the issue meaningfully be framed as increasing access to law for the poor? Or, ultimately, is this framing debilitating truncated? Is the true issue not more access, but how to have equal access for members of our civil society? Speakers include scholars who approach these questions from a variety of methodological backgrounds and experience. Topics to be covered include 1) the theoretical difference between increased and equal access and interrogating the gap between those two concepts 2) historical perspectives on when and how the equality aspect of the access of justice movement may have been more or less prevalent 3) alternative conceptions of how to attain equal access to law that include, but are not limited to, decreasing access to those who currently have disproportionate access.

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