Director: David Udell, Executive Director, National Center for Access to Justice, and Visiting Professor from Practice, Cardozo School of Law

The Access to Justice Clinic offers law students the opportunity to engage in policy research and policy advocacy to increase the ability of vulnerable people to obtain access to our nation’s courts.

The clinic’s fieldwork includes two components.  Students will help to build the Access to Justice Index—an online database enabling the public to compare features of their local justice systems with those in other States—by carrying out research into the laws, policies and practices that define the justice system in states across the country. Students simultaneously carry out discrete policy advocacy projects that rely on our clinic’s past research findings as established through past work done to build earlier parts of the Justice Index.

To consider one example: Students devote part of their field work to carrying out policy research into the laws, policies and practices in the 50 states that, for example, set “caseload caps” on the number of clients that an indigent defense attorney may represent at any one time. While carrying out this policy research on this new subject, students also rely on our clinic’s past research findings to support a new policy advocacy initiative in which they would push for reform of laws, policies and practices that, for example, fail to ensure that court interpreters are trained and qualified.

In the seminar component of the clinic, the students learn about the comprehensive access to justice movement in this country. They also learn about the sources of law that both establish and limit the authority of the legislature, executive agencies and courts to respond to problems in the justice system; and about the tools of advocacy that are used by reformers to improve the justice system.

The National Center for Access to Justice at Cardozo Law School is among the few academically affiliated non-partisan law and policy organizations dedicated to achieving reform on behalf of vulnerable people in the civil and criminal justice systems.