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What is “access to justice”?

“The fair chance to secure your rights under the law.” Access to justice means that when people encounter challenges that require a solution through legal processes, they are able to obtain a fair outcome. Access to justice bridges the gap between legal services and low-income communities.

Barriers to Justice

Language Access

More than 25 million people in the US have Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Language barriers pose difficulties to individuals who are trying to understand the legal jargon during courtroom procedures. Many individuals with Limited English proficiency are unable to tell their story comprehensively without the support of a qualified and trained interpreter. 

Other Barriers

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Legal Fees

Californians with incomes below 125% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) qualify for free legal aid services. However, many Californians who do not qualify for free legal aid may still be unable to afford a private attorney as private attorneys have average hourly rates of $323 in California. Additionally, California superior courts impose statutory fines and fees in convicted criminal, traffic, and infraction offenses. In California, these fees are amongst the highest in the nation.

Attorney Access

According to the California Justice Gap Study, an additional 8,961 full-time attorneys would be needed to resolve ALL civil legal problems of low-income Americans. Assuming an annual salary of $100K per attorney and administrative costs, an additional $900 million in legal aid funding would be required each year to fulfill the need for low-cost civil legal aid services. 

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