Access to Justice (Harris)
M 3:00PM - 5:40PM
Gittis Hall 1
“Access to justice” holds multiple meanings in contemporary law. It often means access to legal services (lawyers) to receive advice and representation to address unmet legal needs. It can also mean access to courts or adjudicative spaces (mediation, arbitration, subject matter specific courts such as mental health or drug courts) that exist as alternatives to court-based justice. Still access to justice can also include the legal decision-makers themselves, or the scope of their authority and expertise. This course surfaces and interrogates the meaning of access to justice as a historical and contemporary question. In doing so, students will engage with theoretical and doctrinal materials in law as well as review interdisciplinary materials such as quantitative and qualitative studies that help frame contemporary legal debates and underscore the stakes for both law and society.
The course meets weekly and will have a particular theme under the “access to justice” umbrella each class session. Students will hear from speakers working in this area – academics, practitioners, non-lawyers, those with lived experiences as a way for students to negotiate the academic and doctrinal materials with the stakes of these debates. In terms of evaluation, there is no final exam. Instead, participation matters, and students will produce a series of response papers over the course of the semester that are detailed and tied to specific questions about legal doctrine and its real-world impact.