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诉诸司法

诉诸司法是一个需要解决的复杂问题。我们当然没有所有的答案,这也是我们努力发挥关键作用的事情。这就是为什么所有律师事务所——包括solos和小型律师事务所——都必须在解决司法公正问题上发挥作用。

每个有法律问题的人都必须以某种方式解决这个问题。无论他们是否能够聘请律师、代表自己,还是因为他们从未回答问题而作出违约判决。底线是一样的:太多的人因为访问问题而得不到律师的法律帮助。

律师费用昂贵 可能很难找到或 难以处理 这意味着,有能力聘请律师的人与能够获得免费法律服务的人之间存在差距。这可能是一个很大的差距。那么,我们如何弥补这一差距,使每个人都能以负担得起的价格获得所需的法律帮助,并在需要时获得优质的法律代表?

Well, it seems pretty simple. If we can make it less expensive to hire a lawyer, more people should be able to afford the legal help they need. That will narrow the gap, right?

We believe that a four-pronged approach is the only way to really address the challenges in the access to justice problem:

  • Making courts more accessible
  • Increased funding for nonprofit and public legal services
  • Modernized regulation and ethics rules to incorporate representation of underserved communities
  • Championing new law firm business models that are scalable and client-centric

The Federal Reserve investigated savings in the US in 2014, and found that half of Americans couldn’t come up with $400 in an emergency. And a substantial portion of the rest would probably need to borrow that $400. So any legal services that cost more than $400 are unaffordable for half of Americans.

If that’s right, you can’t nibble away at the access-to-justice gap by making legal services just a little bit cheaper or providing alternative pricing options like a sliding fee scale. You would have to get your fee below $400 for any given legal service.

Value, Not Affordability

On the other hand, ABA Staff Counsel Will Hornsby has argued that affordability isn’t really the only problem.

When we predicate our solutions to improving access to legal services on the presumption that those services are unaffordable, we misdirect our resources from solutions that are better applied to increasing engagement. The research clearly indicates the crisis involves the recognition, or lack of recognition, by people that their problems have legal solutions and decisions need to be made determining when it is of value for people to pursue those solutions.

If that’s true, we should expect to see people who are willing to pay once they are made to appreciate the value of legal services.

DIY Fail

In his former practice, attorney Sam Glover gave away a simple, easy-to-use template to help defendants in debt collection lawsuits answer and serve discovery requests. But a lot of people who downloaded the template paid his firm to help them prepare the documents anyway.

So maybe people just don’t understand what they are paying you for until you show them. Even if you give away good, easy-to-use documents for free, people want to know they are doing it right, or that the form they have is the right one to solve their problem. And they are willing to save the money to pay for it. That’s basically what Hornsby’s research says, too.

Pro Se by Choice?

Here’s another data point. About 80% of the parties in family court are pro se. Most lawyers look at that number and see a big pile of potential clients. Jordan Furlong has a somewhat different perspective. Maybe we should understand that number to mean that 80% of the parties in family court don’t need a lawyer. Or don’t think they need a lawyer, at least.

So if 80% don’t need a lawyer or are getting along okay without one, why is the court system still constructed on the assumption parties will be represented? Even those who are represented suffer because pro se parties bog down the court. After all, if there’s one thing that really could disrupt the legal profession, it is the judicial system.

Maybe, in addition to people who don’t yet appreciate the value of a lawyer and people who actually can’t afford one, there are some people who don’t want to hire a lawyer at any price. Not all 80% of those in family court, surely, but some percentage of those probably just aren’t interested in hiring a lawyer.

Who Really Wants a Cheap 律师

考虑关于可承受性的另一件事。我们真的认为人们想要 花钱少的 律师我们认为公众真的认为律师是任何有法律执照的傻瓜都能做的事情吗?这当然不是我的经验。根据我的经验,公众知道有好律师和坏律师,好律师比坏律师贵。毕竟这很有道理。

因此,即使获得法律帮助的成本降到人们能够负担的水平以下,那些提供帮助的人如何让公众相信他们正在提供帮助呢 质量 以这些价格提供法律帮助?

这很复杂

有没有可能把所有这些数据点和轶事结合起来,提出一个增加诉诸司法机会的处方?

我们倾向于将诉诸司法视为一个大问题,但事实并非如此。这是数百、数千或数百万个不同的问题。

不同的问题需要不同的解决方案。

例如,事实证明,你可以让居住在有在线上诉程序的城市中的几乎所有人都可以获得停车罚单上诉的法律帮助。但这一过程肯定不会适用于所有类型的法律问题。

文档组装和自动化也可能发挥作用。许多法院已经通过自助服务台做了很多工作,但想象一下,法院有DIY门户,可以帮助当事人通过表格和自动归档。(我知道,考虑到电子归档系统有多么糟糕,很难想象法院会在这方面做得很好,但一个家伙可以做梦!)如果不是法院,也可能是法律援助。

但你也不能用一个光滑的应用程序或DIY门户解决所有问题。一些法律问题仍然(并且在可预见的未来)需要一名真正的律师代表客户。让这些服务更容易获得不仅仅是(或并非总是)让它们更便宜的问题。它可能与市场营销(向公众传达律师的价值)和价格标签有着同样或更多的关系。

Access to Justice Statistics

Usually, when people outside of the legal profession talk about the legal system being imperfect, it is about a criminal justice system that is so suffused with racial bias as to be untenable.

Lawyers know, however, even if they never discuss it, that the civil system is also critically damaged. Half of Americans aren’t able to come up with $400 in an emergency, which almost certainly means they aren’t hiring a lawyer when trouble arises. Legal Aid is criminally under-resourced and underfunded, which means even people that qualify for representation through a legal services organization aren’t getting assistance. That said, outside of certain pernicious civil problems that plague many individuals who fall into the access to justice gap—domestic violence, evictions, debt collections, foreclosures—even lawyers likely generally assume that the remainder of the civil system runs relatively smoothly, with both sides of a dispute having access to an attorney. It turns out that isn’t even remotely true.

Richard Zorza looked at some of the data from the National Center for State Courts’ Landscape of Litigation in Civil Courts. After playing with a data set of 650,000 cases from a random selection of ten urban counties, Zorza figured out that nearly 70% of all civil cases only have an attorney on one side of the equation, and that side is usually the plaintiff. Here’s Zorza’s chart in all of its not-at-all-really glory:

Chart originally published at https://accesstojustice.net

This isn’t a gap. It’s a chasm. Basically, if most people get sued, they are going to court without a lawyer. Period. Put another way, the users of the court system aren’t primarily lawyers and judges like we tend to think. The primary users are unrepresented parties, and nothing about the system is designed for that.

佐尔扎对此的评论感觉有些夸张,但事实并非如此。

这要求法院的自我形象发生多么令人震惊的变化,对诉诸司法是多么大的挑战,对我们整个法院管理乃至整个民事司法系统的重新思考也是多么大的挑战。

佐尔扎在法庭方面提出了一些解决方案:教育和挑选法官,让他们明白,自我代理诉讼当事人是常态,而不是例外,为自我代理而不仅仅是律师构建技术,为最需要帮助的人构建案件流管理。

律师有真正的机会成为这里变革的驱动者。不,这不能用更多的解决 无偿的 工作或应用程序。律师需要对该体系施加压力,以实施佐尔扎提议的那种改革。我们还需要重新思考我们是否对案件的整个生命周期都是必要的。

想了解更多关于诉诸司法的信息吗?获取的第一章 小公司路线图.

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