Access to Justice

Access to Justice

Office for Access to Justice


The U.S. Department of Justice established the Office for Access to Justice (ATJ) in March 2010 to address the access-to-justice crisis in the criminal and civil justice system. ATJ’s mission is to help the justice system efficiently deliver outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, irrespective of wealth and status. ATJ staff works within the Department of Justice, across federal agencies, and with state, local, and tribal justice system stakeholders to increase access to counsel and legal assistance and to improve the justice delivery systems that serve people who are unable to afford lawyers.

ATJ is guided by three principles:

  • Promoting Accessibility — eliminating barriers that prevent people from understanding and exercising their rights.
  • Ensuring Fairness — delivering fair and just outcomes for all parties, including those facing financial and other disadvantages.
  • Increasing Efficiency — delivering fair and just outcomes effectively, without waste or duplication.

To translate these principles into action, ATJ pursues strategies to leverage and better allocate justice resources, and works to:

  • Advance new statutory, policy, and practice changes that support development of quality indigent defense and civil legal aid delivery systems at the state and federal level;
  • Promote less lawyer-intensive and court-intensive solutions to legal problems; and
  • Expand research on innovative strategies to close the gap between the need for, and the availability of, quality legal assistance.

Related Blog Posts

Friday, April 29, 2016

Courtesy of Helam Gebremariam, Counsel, Office for Access to Justice

One year ago this week, civil unrest broke in Baltimore following the tragic death of Freddie Gray.  In the midst of these events, Baltimore Library Manger Melanie Towsend Diggs made a critically important decision – to keep the Enoch Pratt Free Library open.  In the subsequent days, the library, located in downtown Baltimore – at the very intersection where community members, police and media converged – became a safe space for the community’s organizing, dialogue and healing.  Ms. Diggs’ decision highlighted the vital role that civic institutions, including libraries, play in communities, particularly in times of crisis.

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General Information: Office for Access to Justice

Lisa Foster


Office for Access to Justice
(202) 514-5312

White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable
Indigent Defense Publications Authored or Funded by DOJ
Access to Justice Accomplishments

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