In May 2012, alum blogger Michael Gonring wrote about Wisconsin’s lack of funding for civil legal aid for poor people and the importance of our shared pro bono oath. These posts highlight a formidable challenge facing our profession, the courts, and society at large. Our poorest residents often cannot get legal help with civil legal problems. Resources have declined dramatically in recent years for low income Wisconsin residents who have critical civil legal needs, depriving many of access to justice.
On Thursday, September 13, 2012, Wisconsin’s Access to Justice Commission will hold a public hearing at Marquette Law School from 5-7:30 p.m. The purpose of the hearing is to gather and share information about access to justice issues in Wisconsin, civil legal services for low income residents, and the great and growing unmet legal needs of poor and vulnerable Wisconsin residents. All are welcome to attend the hearing and provide testimony.
This public hearing is a project of the Wisconsin Access to Justice Commission. The Access to Justice Commission was created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the State Bar of Wisconsin to develop and encourage means of expanding access to justice for low income Wisconsin residents. More information about the Commission can be found at www.wisatj.org.
The access to justice problem is complex and affects us all. Most importantly, a lack of legal assistance can create or exacerbate problems in the lives of poor people. Additionally, it can place stress on the court system. Often, early help with civil legal problems can be far less costly than emergency social services at a later point in time, when the problems have become larger, more complicated, and more difficult to address.
I look forward to hearing from members of the bar and members of the public on September 13 at the Wisconsin Access to Justice public hearing. I hope that by sharing our insights and perspectives, we move toward greater understanding of access to justice problems in Wisconsin and possible solutions. Please join the conversation.
If you wish to provide testimony at the hearing, please email Prof. Rebecca Blemberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.