Above the Line Network

An important addition to the national access to justice landscape, the Above the Line Network (ATLN) tackles the daunting challenges that middle-class Americans face when seeking legal help that doesn’t break the bank. While most organized access to justice efforts rightly focus on low-income and poor people who are especially vulnerable, we can never achieve our nation’s ideal of equal justice for all when middle-class people—who make up more than 50% of the nation’s population— and small businesses struggle to find quality, affordable legal services. They are “above the line” of income eligibility for the free legal aid reserved for the poorest Americans, but they also struggle to find quality and affordable legal services in the current legal market.

With a specific focus on the legal needs of the vastly overlooked middle class, ATLN is a new, organized network of individuals and organizations across the country and in Canada that are committed to improving access for the middle-market—a collaborative and supportive community where ideas, resources, and best practices can be shared, further developed, and scaled to reach more people who need affordable legal services.

IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver, and the CBF are excited to partner on this critically urgent project. The project advances the CBF’s work in helping legal consumers in the middle class connect with affordable and accessible quality legal services—including through its legal incubator program, the Justice Entrepreneurs Project—and the work of IAALS in helping the legal profession evolve to put client and consumer needs first and enable people of all socioeconomic backgrounds to find the legal help they need. 

Learn more about the project here.

Interested in learning more? Contact the CBF’s Associate Director of Advocacy, Innovation, & Training, Roya Samarghandi, at rsamarghandi@chicagobarfoundation.org or 312.554.8022.