A new research report based on a comprehensive study in California shows that access to civil legal aid has a broad range of significant positive impacts. Specifically, the report underscores that access to legal assistance improved case outcomes, significantly increased perceptions of fairness, and made the court process more efficient.
The research project, one of the largest access to justice studies ever undertaken, analyzed data from ten pilot projects in California state courts that offered legal services in housing, child custody, guardianship, and probate cases. The study found that when litigants had access to legal help, either brief services or full representation, they were more likely to actively participate in their case, felt more supported and satisfied with their court experience, were more likely to settle cases, and more likely to achieve sustainable long-term outcomes. The courts also benefitted from cases that were resolved more quickly and efficiently and required fewer contested hearings, trials, and post-judgment motions.
Read the executive summary and full report here.