Pro bono law: Limiting access to the judicial arena | Media Pyro


Millions of people in the United States struggle every day with legal issues that adversely affect their basic human rights. In criminal cases, defendants are often entitled to legal counsel if they cannot afford it. However, in civil matters, there is no right to counsel, even if it involves life-changing matters ranging from dismissal, foreclosure, termination of employment, discrimination, and denial of health care to domestic violence, child custody, and divorce.

Some people are forced to break through the legal system without the legal information, advice, or information needed to assert their rights. You may miss the process of submitting a form and get it thrown out for being incorrect or incomplete. If they come to court, they are too afraid to answer the arguments of the lawyers.

Or, they may ignore legal action because the system is too burdensome or expensive. These and other similar situations show how difficult it is for many to have access to justice.

Access to the trial area

Access to justice reflects the ability of individuals to use the legal system to advocate for themselves and their interests. However, the legal system is very complex and difficult to navigate. For those who cannot afford a lawyer, access to the court system and justice can be limited. This equity gap is the difference between the legal needs of low-income people and the resources available to meet those needs.

The numbers provide a clear message about the importance of equality, the importance of access to justice and its role in ending poverty, combating discrimination, and providing opportunities. .

In immigration matters, the Immigration Advocacy Study Group found that among immigrants in New York who were released and not arrested, 74% of immigrants who had a visa were successful, compared to only 13% of immigrants who were not. The American Bar Association visible since unaccompanied minors are unrepresented in removal proceedings, only 15% of cases win at law, but if they have a lawyer, more than 73% stay in this country.

In tenant tenant cases, the National Conference on the Human Right to Counsel reviewed tenant surveys and found that:

  • In a Massachusetts program that provides full representation to low-income tenants, 90% of foreclosures resulted in positive outcomes, with 70% of tenants staying in their homes and 20% it took a long time to find a place to live.
  • In California, rent-seeking tenants live in their units three times as often as those without legal assistance.
  • In Denver, Colorado, renters stayed in their homes 70%–100% of the time, compared to 32% of renters who did not.

The importance of pro bono law

The number of people who need legal services is surprising. According to the Legal Services Corporation’s 2022 Justice Gap Study, low-income Americans don’t get enough — and more — legal help for 92% of their civil legal problems.

Pro bono plays an important role in filling this legal need. The term pro bono comes from the Latin pro bono public, meaning “for the public good.” Although the term “provided services for free” implies, for the legal profession it means much more. Pro bono is a strategy and an opportunity to promote a justice system that is fair and accessible to all people, regardless of their income or circumstances.

Many lawyers see pro bono as an ethical responsibility to address the legal needs of minority and vulnerable communities. Lawyers empower the vulnerable by providing direct legal services to those in need and the non-profit organizations that serve them, including training and legal representation on important policy issues. encouraging positive social change for marginalized groups.

In the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s 2020 TrustLaw Index of Pro Bono, 96% of respondents said their main reason for doing pro bono work is to give back to their community. This dynamic has led to an increase in pro bono work in law firms and corporate law offices. According to the Pro Bono Institute’s Law Firm Pro Bono Challengein 2019 some 127 firms dedicated more than 4.9 million hours to pro bono work.

Legal pro bono is only one part of the equation

Ultimately, however, pro bono is part of a larger, integrated solution to ensure equal access to justice. There is also a great need for legal aid and legal services organizations that are paid fairly – and for a simpler and more user-friendly court system with simplified legal procedures and technology to make it easier for individuals to navigate. in the legal system.

In addition, campaign organizations must continue to address systemic inequities that disproportionately affect our most vulnerable populations – those living in poverty, people of color, women, immigrants, the elderly, the disabled, and LGBTQ+ people.

Learn more about how Thomson Reuters supports legal action throughout the world.


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