The upcoming January/February 2019 issue of GPSolo magazine on “Access to Justice” seeks to raise awareness of a pervasive problem in the United States that for most attorneys is out-of-sight, out-of-mind: Most Americans have trouble accessing, navigating, or defending themselves in our court systems. None of our civil, criminal, or even administrative systems were designed to be “user friendly,” and without being trained in judicial processes, or having access to the funds to hire someone who has, the average citizen has no idea how to navigate our legal system. There are few areas of the law that aren’t suffering an access-to-justice problem, whether it is criminal law (defendants who cannot afford representation or bail), civil litigation (low-income consumers who have been defrauded or are being unlawfully harassed by creditors), family law (couples unable to afford a divorce or pay for an adoption), or trusts and estates (surviving spouses and children who cannot take title to a house or car because they have no clue how to probate an estate).
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