Ten years ago, when I quit my full-time job in litigation for a questionable career path as a mediator, I exchanged one set of idealistic principles for another. One motivation for that shift was a growing concern about the feasibility of achieving “justice” through traditional litigation. For those seeking it, access to justice is a foundational and far-reaching theme in our society. It is also intensely personal. For some, access is as simple as hiring a trusted attorney to shepherd a case from start to finish. For others, it is infinitely complex. For unrepresented parties in civil cases in federal court, access to justice can be especially illusive, as they are left to navigate the complexities of court systems with varying levels of support. I see these differences daily in my work running the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York’s ADR Program.
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