An encouraging solution to increase access to legal services for people of modest means is to create the equivalent of nurse practitioners in the legal profession, explain Jason Solomon, executive director of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, and Noelle Smith, a third-year Stanford Law student. Several states are considering this, they say, and the result will improve the way the legal system functions.
How can we increase access to justice? The problem seems intractable but urgent. Wealthy individuals and big businesses can afford representation; some of our poorest citizens can get help through legal aid. Everyone else is on their own.
There are entire areas of law where people of modest means are largely unserved by lawyers. Imagine going through a divorce, battling for custody, appearing in court—all without help. The same goes for fighting a denial of unemployment or disability benefits, applying for asylum, responding to an eviction notice, or negotiating with a debt collector.