Abstract

TRIBUTARIES OF JUSTICE: THE SEARCH FOR FULL ACCESS

TALBOT "SANDY" D'ALEMBERTE

Copyright 1998 Florida State University Law Review

To achieve access to justice for all of our citizens we need to have a plan, and we need to know where we are today. In this Essay, President D'Alemberte uses Florida as a model because it has comprehensive and local pro bono plans in place and because there has been a recent assessment of the legal needs of Florida's poor. As of 1995, there were 2.3 million Floridians in poverty, and most do not have access to the civil justice system. A study commissioned by the Florida Bar Foundation indicates that eighty-one percent of the legal needs of Florida's poor are not being met. To compound the problem, the number of Floridians living in poverty is increasing.

Although the number of citizens living in poverty has increased, many of the resources for indigent legal services have declined. For example, support from federal sources and from the interest on lawyer trust account programs have diminished. Now that the pro bono reporting requirement is in place, it is possible to conduct an assessment to better determine the status of achieving access to justice for all of Florida's citizens. Full access to the civil justice system can be achieved through free-flowing tributaries of resources that enable the impoverished to secure legal representation. An examination of current and potential tributaries indicates which are providing, or might provide, full access to the legal system.

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