In a February 13th op-ed for the New York Times, journalist Cristian Farias conducted a Q & A with Illinois sociology and law professor Rebecca Sandefur regarding her research on a question that she considers central to the American legal system: "does everyone facing legal issues need a lawyer?"
An excerpt from the article follows:
Q. If you were to define to a layperson, who perhaps has never had any legal troubles in her life, what “access to justice” means, what would you tell her?
A. I would say they may not think that they’ve had legal problems in their lives, but it’s almost impossible that they haven’t. An enormous amount of the activity of our daily lives — being married, being divorced, having kids, taking care of other people’s kids, taking care of elderly relatives who need help with their affairs, all kinds of relationships at work, anything you buy or sell — all of that is governed by the civil law. When you run into a problem with one of those issues, it’s actually almost always a civil justice issue. We make rules about how that stuff is supposed to work because we think those rules would order that activity in a way that we care about, in a way that’s just. Access to justice happens when that just resolution happens, when things are resolved the way they’re supposed to be.
Read the full op-ed at NYTimes.com.