by Renee Knake Jefferson
Published by: NYU Press
320 pages, 152.00 x 229.00 mm
A practical plan for providing legal help to all, regardless of resources
Millions of people in the United States face legal problems without lawyers to help them. Why? How do we educate and inform the public about the law so they can understand when the services of a lawyer are necessary or desirable? When can individuals solve legal problems on their own or with the assistance of a specialist without a traditional law degree? In short, how do we democratize the law?
Law Democratized offers a blueprint to increase legal help for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay. Building on more than a decade of research into innovation in legal services, the book advances a series of recommendations inspired by success stories from around the globe. Renee Knake Jefferson outlines different paths pursued by bar associations, courts, entrepreneurs, law schools, nonprofits, and others, evaluating the promise and pitfalls of each. She analyzes regulatory reforms employed in other nations, along with emerging efforts in a handful of US states.
If the rule of law is the bedrock that American democracy rests upon, then the justice transformed system must be open and user-friendly to all. Law Democratized makes a compelling argument for transforming the American legal landscape through engaged citizenship, ethical innovation, expanded education, and regulatory reform, in order to democratize law and make legal help more accessible.
Renee Knake Jefferson is Professor of Law and the Doherty Chair in Legal Ethics at the University of Houston and author of Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court.
Jefferson has long been an indispensable ally in the American Bar Association’s efforts to encourage innovations to improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of civil legal services. Law Democratized is what we’ve come to expect from her impressive scholarship—a masterpiece of thoroughly researched observations and practical advice on how to bridge the justice gap in the United States. ~Deborah Enix-Ross, President, American Bar Association (2022-23)
America has a broken civil justice system that millions of Americans facing critical legal problems can’t access. In Law Democratized, Renee Knake Jefferson, one of our great experts on the justice system, offers a way out. Her book diagnoses the problem, explains how we got there, and offers practical recommendations for fixing the system; it combines up-to-date information with in-depth analysis. The book is superb: completely readable by readers with no background knowledge of law, yet with no sacrifice in scholarly depth and accuracy. It’s the best book on access to justice in many years. ~David Luban, Distinguished University Professor, Georgetown University
The justice gap is a serious—and seriously overlooked—problem in the United States. In Law Democratized, Renee Knake Jefferson addresses the crisis, offering a clear-eyed diagnosis of the status quo and exploring possible solutions. Her book is well worth reading for anyone who is interested in—and concerned about—the state of our justice system. ~David Lat, David Lat, Founder, Original Jurisdiction and Above the Law
A thought-provoking exploration of the civil justice system's massive market failure in failing to provide accessible justice to all but the wealthiest citizens. Jefferson diagnoses the often-siloed problems contributing to the crisis and the stakeholder roles in sustaining them. She paints an urgent picture; rightly so. Yet, Jefferson does not stop at diagnosis; she offers a prescription too. Jefferson meticulously outlines potential solution paths for stakeholder groups to democratize law. From broad changes in legal education to emerging technologies and regulatory reform, her blueprint for justice is comprehensive and inspiring. It is a must-read for legal practitioners, policymakers, academics, and anyone who believes that the law belongs to the people, not to lawyers and judges. ~Bridget McCormack, President and CEO, American Arbitration Association
Law Democratized is a ground-breaking book on access to justice. Renee Knake Jefferson not only masterfully identifies the sources of the current access to justice crisis, but also methodologically provides a clear roadmap for progress through thoughtful and actionable recommendations. For those interested in a path to a more equitable and inclusive justice system (and we all should be!) this book is a must-read. ~Amy Salyzyn, Associate Professor, University of Ottawa
“The legal services market is in crisis, with the vast majority of people unable to resolve their legal problems effectively. In Law Democratized, Renee Knake Jefferson sounds the alarm, bringing the problem to sharp relief. But more than that, she provides concrete solutions from multiple disciplines - law, regulation, education and more. This is the definitive book about how to save the legal profession, before it's too late. ~Ed Walters, co-founder of Fastcase
The global access-to-justice crisis is a damning indictment of all modern legal systems. In Law Democratized, Renee Knake Jefferson compels us to confront and seek to mend our broken system. It is an excellent book and should be required reading for all policymakers, lawyers, judges, and scholars who care about the unaffordability and inaccessibility of legal and court services. ~Richard Susskind, author of Tomorrow’s Lawyers and Online Courts and the Future of Justice
At a time when “injustice” appears to have become a politicized polarizing idea, Law Democratized accomplishes something quite remarkable. It develops a clear, compelling account of justice all Americans can rally behind – meaningful access to necessary legal help – and then offers practical solutions to increasing justice for everybody. Professor Knake Jefferson has written an important timely book that anyone concerned about justice should read. ~Eli Wald, Charles W. Delaney Jr. Professor of Law, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
Measurably advances the conversation about ways to meet people's legal needs. This narrative demands the attention of readers interested in making the legal system work for everyone, regardless of their resources. ~Library Journal
A remarkable book – a densely researched, deeply informed analysis of the state of the problem and the best pathway to progress. ~Daniel B. Rodriguez, former dean Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
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