Access to Justice Through Limited Legal Assistance

Rhode, Deborah L., Eaton, Kevin, Porto, Anna | January 1, 2018

This article describes an empirical survey of a limited legal assistance program designed to assist low-income individuals with family law matters. It begins by exploring the need for such research, given the nation’s shameful level of unmet legal needs, and the lack of rigorous evaluation of strategies designed to address those needs. The article discussion then describes the methodology of a survey of Alaska Legal Services’ limited legal assistance program, and the survey’s major findings. Among the most critical conclusions are that limited assistance is a cost-effective use of resources, but that more effort should center on provision of hands-on assistance in form completion. A final section of the article places these findings in the context of broader strategies to increase access to justice for those who need it most.