Large survey launches in national study to assess justice needs of Americans

IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, and the Netherlands-based HiiL (The Hague Institute for Innovation of Law) recently launched the largest-ever survey of its kind as part of their US Justice Needs project. Funded by Bohemian Foundation, the US Justice Needs survey will reach 10,000 people in the United States and seek to uncover their experiences in accessing justice when they need it.

“A broad study of justice needs at all income levels is badly needed,” says Jim Sandman, president emeritus of the Legal Services Corporation, Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, and member of the US Justice Needs Advisory Committee.

“We lack current data on what legal needs people in different economic circumstances and geographic locations have and how, if at all, they address them.”

The scope of the survey is a major next step in the research in this field, which has been heavily focused on identifying the unmet legal needs among those with low income, or has been limited in geographical scope.

US Justice Needs will survey people across all regions of the United States, including urban and rural areas, and people who have not historically been included.

The results of the survey will be directly applicable to the issues we currently face as a nation, and how those intersect with access to justice for Americans. Data will be collected between mid-August and the end of September from a nationally representative sample of individuals in the United States.

Outcomes from US Justice Needs will contribute vital information to the conversation regarding access to justice in order to assure that the solutions are truly addressing the right problems. IAALS and HiiL will co-publish the final report early next year, with online interactive dashboards that allow greater transparency and a deeper dive into the data. The ultimate findings will create a baseline, with the opportunity for a comparative study in the future.