American Judges Association


Date of this Version



Court Review - Volume 57


Used by permission.


It has been an unprecedented year, and the challenges we face are not yet over. Chief among them are the dual crises of coronavirus and racism, challenges which are distinct, yet undeniably intertwined. Existing research indicates that members of poor and minority groups are less likely than their white and higher-income counterparts to seek help when they experience a civil legal problem. Indeed, roughly three-quarters of the members of poor and minority groups do not seek legal help when they experience such problems.2 Frequently, people’s legal problems are connected to other issues in their lives, including domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health, poverty, or lack of housing or employment.3 This article showcases the Justice for All Initiative as one way forward for courts and a broad range of partner stakeholders to increase capacity and address the challenges faced by all people—with special emphasis on those traditionally underserved—with unmet civil legal needs. Through grants and engagement in fourteen states and the District of Columbia, the Justice for All Initiative (JFA) has supported systems-oriented strategic planning and systemic collaboration to establish new ways for all people with unmet civil legal issues to get the help they need, in the form they need it, when they need it.4