Center for Access to Justice
The Center for Access to Justice was founded in 2016 to support those working to ensure meaningful access to the courts and equal treatment in the civil and criminal justice systems, with a regional focus on the South. We do this by convening stakeholders, engaging in research and public education, and training the next generation of lawyers to serve the public interest.
- Collaboration. The center aims to create a convening space within the university context to explore existing obstacles to access to justice and discuss strategies for lasting change. To that end, we organize interdisciplinary workshops for faculty and graduate students; co-sponsor CLE programs for practitioners; host guest lecturers, including academics, policymakers, and lawyers; and collaborate with other departments, universities, and research centers to promote access to justice.
- Research. The center also conducts and facilitates research to help identify and better understand the difficulties individuals face in navigating the justice system. For example, the center was awarded a $79,000 grant from the Charles Koch Foundation to study the civil legal needs of indigent criminal defendants, a project that involves collaboration with the Sociology and Criminal Justice & Criminology departments at Georgia State and public defender offices in Fulton and DeKalb counties.
- Education. The center seeks to create a supportive environment and serve as a hub for students interested in pursuing public interest or pro bono work, either during or after their time in law school. Starting in fall 2017, faculty director Lauren Sudeall Lucas and assistant director Darcy Meals will co-teach a course, Access to Justice: Law Reform, as part of the center’s access to justice curriculum. The center will also house a student-run pro bono program that connects law students with volunteer opportunities to contribute to access to justice and coordinate alternative spring break trips that allow students to immerse themselves in a subject area while engaging in pro bono service. The Center for Access to Justice is building a community at Georgia State to support student contributions to access to justice and encourage students to maintain a commitment to access to justice throughout their professional careers.