How National Licensing Could Help Close the Justice Gap

An incremental move towards a more nationalized licensing process may be an important piece of the puzzle in pairing qualified, passionate attorneys with currently underserved clients who need their help.

Source: How National Licensing Could Help Close the Justice Gap

 

This article first found on The Lawyerist was written earlier in the month, but it seemed especially timely to me given that for most of the recently graduated law class, aspiring young lawyers all over the country have just finished taking their bar exams. Except for you crazy kids in California, good luck on your last day!

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Chart highlighting how access to justice problems result in official misconduct

Access to Justice Should Matter to You

Today, people are rioting across the country because cellphones and cameras have made it possible to share police abuse and brutality instantly. Today, the dishonesty of prosecutors and other government officials is a factor in nearly half of all cases where the accused turns out to be innocent.1 Today, Americans are getting priced out of access to justice by high fees. As the costs of good lawyers have gone up and the pace of life has gone faster and faster, more and more Americans find themselves shut out of the justice system and unsure of how to get ahead. Struggling workers, indigent clients, and young people trying to move up from humble beginnings to the middle class are under-served by the legal market.

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Zombie debt eats lawyers’ ethics — and your money

Old debt gets written off, then sold, then parceled out to debt collectors where it comes back to life.

Source: Zombie debt eats lawyers’ ethics — and your money

 

This is actually a great article and an interesting look at the unethical practices in the debt collection industry. I remember the first time as a law clerk for a judge I got a filing from a lawyer who (because of state law) had to stamp a “This document is from a debt collector” on all their stationary. It shocked me at first. I had thought there was a clear difference between a debt collector and an attorney, but for many firms in this kind of business, those lines blur. Trying to help stop these debt collectors can be a full-time job all on its own, for example the consumer financial protection bureau.

 

Some firms are filing thousands of lawsuits a month to collect on consumer debt. Most of these lawsuits are baseless. Many of the debt collection practices are outright illegal. And they’ve almost never, ever, done the paperwork correctly and have a clear and legal claim of title to the debt. Often times, literally all you have to do is show up and say “Prove It”. But so many consumers are scared into paying, or just ignore these kinds of summons hoping they’ll go away. I know, I’ve been there myself. When consumers are unsure what to do, they need help stopping debt collectors.

The community in the areas that Justice Unlocked serves, won’t have to worry about ignoring this kind of zombie debt. We’ll be willing to fight for you, the lending industry may be predatory, but now you’ll have a friend on your side. The poor and disadvantaged populations that we serve are often the number one targets for this sort of unethical practices, and I’m really looking forward to doing what we can to give people help stopping debt collectors and taking their lives back – for less than they’d have to pay regular attorneys.

Scales of Justice representing legal help

Offering Legal Help Where It’s Needed

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain

 

What Justice Unlocked Means to Me:

 

For some, finding a reason for your existence is so overwhelmingly incredible, that you have no choice but to run with it. I learned early on that I am on this earth to help my fellow men and women. Exactly how I am to do that was another question altogether. One thing I became aware of is my ability to think inside and outside of the box. This frame of thinking (which yes, leads me to over-complicate things at times) has provided me the opportunity to help many people. I love helping and I love  people, and the need for an organization like Justice Unlocked will provide the resources to reach many more with legal help.

Early in our lives, my sister and I were exposed to parts of the legal system that no one really wants to encounter.  We had an adventurous and short-lived childhood. After all of those events, we had to grow up rather quickly. Our mother went back to school, graduated with her bachelor's, and later, pursued a law degree (which was left unfinished). The good thing about her attempting law school, is that we were able to attend her classes (read: had to, couldn't afford babysitters) I developed a great love for law and justice. This fire for equality burns inside of me this very day.

Scales of Justice representing legal help

Having help can mean the difference between a fair fight, and a loss.

There have been so many instances in life where I have thought “if I only had the resources…” I know I’m not alone in thinking this, and I’ve met several people in my life who have actually said the same to me. What Justice Unlocked means to me is the unlocking of access to legal help for those who feel helpless in desperate situations. I’ve had my share of desperate situations. I’ve had my share of negative thoughts, feelings of despair and hopelessness. However, just as the good times pass, so shall the bad times. One of my favorite lines from a song is “I get by with a little help from my friends” by The Beatles. And it’s so true. All bad-to-good stories involve friends, or strangers-turned-friends, whom helped me cope, provided resources or connections, or even just a listening ear.

 

Legal Help can make a difference

 

They say networking is a very important skill that everyone can learn, and sometimes it can be as simple as asking for help, whether that means legal help, or anything else. You never know the connections you may have – the untapped resources – unless you ask. When it comes down to it – if you never ask, the answer is always no. I can admit, fear has stopped me from asking for help several times. I have learned that fear is a liar, and asking for help only yields positive results. My desire for this organization is to use my skills in conflict resolution, creativity, and research to provide opportunities for others to get the legal help they need and find justice.

I envision Justice Unlocked providing networking opportunities for individuals to grow and succeed beyond their current situation, as well as unlocking a flawed system to provide more equality and protection to those who choose and are able (with our legal help) to use it. I look forward to helping so many people access the legal services we will unlock, and the partnership of the organization with the community, no matter what someone's wealth or social status is.

 

The Justice Gap: Corporate Lawyers Are Making Record Revenues, But Legal Aid Is in Crisis | Susan Beck

There's just one legal aid lawyer for every 8,893 low-income Americans who qualify for legal aid. That's how, in a country with one of the highest concentrations of lawyers in the world, poor people often are forced to represent themselves in life-altering legal matters.

Source: The Justice Gap: Corporate Lawyers Are Making Record Revenues, But Legal Aid Is in Crisis | Susan Beck

 

The gap between the haves and have-nots in this country isn't just limited to the jobs market. It's in the legal market too. This article shows some statistics about how the largest corporate law firms protecting big businesses have improved profits and raked in multi-million dollar bonuses while legal aid funding for the poor has dropped by nearly half over the last decade. Public funding is hard to come by, and private donations have fallen to, it's just harder to get people to give money these days.

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DIscounted Legal Services from Justice Unlocked

Discounted Legal Services From Justice Unlocked

DIscounted Legal Services from Justice Unlocked

How does the law even work?

How will discounted legal services work? How will we decide who gets to use our services? Just how much of a discount is "discounted"? Basically, people want to know, exactly what are we going to be doing with our new organization? And in today's blog post, I'm going to break that down for you.

The whole idea behind Justice Unlocked is getting people who want an attorney help, even when they normally can't afford one. If your matter is civil (like most protective orders, divorces, or business disputes are) then you don't get a free lawyer from the courts. Legal Aid societies might not be able to help you either. There's a lot of people who make "too much" money to get help from these programs, but who don't make enough to afford a quality attorney.

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Justice Unlocked – New Launch

Welcome to Justice Unlocked! This post is celebrating the launch of our website and fundraising efforts, and we hope that you'll take a look around and make us a regular part of your news feed. Justice Unlocked is a new non-profit charity organization that hopes to provide legal representation to under-served communities. You'll find out a lot more about us by looking around and subscribing to our blog. In the meantime, let me run down some of the basics.

Justice Unlocked logo in color

Who is Justice Unlocked?

 

A modern kind of organization, we're not your dad's law firm. Justice Unlocked is organized as a non-profit corporation and are registering for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. During our experiences in graduate and law school, each of the board members have become concerned with the way the legal system is stacked against minorities and the poor. The law is becoming more complex. And as the gap widens between the haves and have-nots there is a gap of coverage where people who need an attorney, can't afford one. If you're like me, you have wanted help from a lawyer for custody, a divorce, figuring out how to start a business, or a small-claims court issue. You probably could have benefited from some legal help but you don't get free attorneys unless you're in extreme poverty or have committed a crime, and you couldn't afford an attorney.

That's where we're going to come in.

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