Access to Justice

Access to Justice

Office for Access to Justice

Mission

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.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

This week, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Domestic Policy Council (DPC) Director Cecilia Muñoz co-chaired the inaugural meeting of the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (WH-LAIR).  Civil legal aid is free legal assistance to low- and moderate-income people who have civil legal problems.  These problems are non-criminal; rather, civil legal aid helps people access basic necessities such as health care, housing, government benefits, employment and educational services.  The WH-LAIR is comprised of 21 federal agencies and works across the various agencies and offices to improve federal programs by increasing meaningful access to justice.  The roundtable met at the Department of Justice for the first time this week to set an agenda for the next two years, and to discuss how legal aid can enhance agency program objectives, improve outcomes and expand opportunities for the people most in need.

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General Information: Office for Access to Justice
Leadership 

Lisa Foster
Director

Contact 

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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