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ABA Announces 2013 Grants to Promote the Creation of New Access to Justice Commissions; Applications for Innovation Grants Due May 1, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The American Bar Association’s Access to Justice Commission Expansion Project has announced the award of five grants to promote the creation of new Access to Justice Commissions in states where they do not exist. The grants were made possible by funding from the Public Welfare Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.

The grants were awarded to: the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education; the Supreme Court of Ohio; the Supreme Court of Oklahoma; the Philadelphia Bar Association; and the Rhode Island Judiciary.

Access to Justice Commissions are formal entities that bring together the highest level of the state’s courts, organized bar and other stakeholders to support the expansion of access to civil justice for low-income and disadvantaged people. As of March 15, there were Access to Justice Commissions in 27 states and the District of Columbia. Most of the Commissions were created by the state’s Supreme Court.

Access to Justice Commissions have had a major impact in expanding support for self-represented litigants in the courts; increasing state-level funding for civil legal aid; developing new initiatives to increase pro bono services by attorneys; promoting collaboration and coordination among civil legal aid providers; building a commitment to pro bono and support for legal aid among law students and new lawyers; and increasing awareness among legislators and other key decision makers, the bar, the judiciary and the general public about the legal needs of low-income and disadvantaged people and the social and economic benefits of ensuring that they do not go unmet.

The goal of the grants is to expand access to civil justice for low-income people by increasing the number of state-level Access to Justice Commissions, and more broadly, by increasing and strengthening partnerships among the courts, the bar, civil legal aid providers and funders, law schools, legislators, executive officials and other stakeholders. The projects funded include statewide hearings, planning processes, and engagement of Access to Justice staff and consultants. All of the projects funded demonstrated broad support from key stakeholders in the state.

In October 2012, the Access to Justice Commission Expansion Project awarded similar grants to: the Georgia State Bar Access to Justice Committee; the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts; the Indiana Bar Foundation; the Montana Justice Foundation; the New Hampshire Access to Justice Commission; the Supreme Court of Virginia; and the Supreme Court of the Virgin Islands.

The project is seeking applications for 2013 Innovation Grants to existing Access to Justice Commissions. Applications are due on May 1, 2013. Additional information about 2012 grants and the 2013 Innovation Grant application process is available here under “Grants.”

The ABA Access to Justice Commission Expansion Project is administered by the ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives. The purpose of the project is to expand the number of state Access to Justice Commissions, strengthen existing Commissions and promote innovative initiatives by Commissions.

For additional information, contact Bob Echols at


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