David Udell Dishes on Growing Access to Justice Research


David Udell, executive director of the National Center for Access to Justice at Fordham Law School, was featured in a Law360 article where he discussed initiatives to grow access-to-justice research.

Ever since his days as a young boy enrolled at a Quaker summer camp, David Udell has been interested in justice.

The executive director of the National Center for Access to Justice, housed at Fordham Law School, said the “values-driven experiences” he had at camp, coupled with growing up in the shadow of Watergate, taught him a core lesson “about the importance of the rule of law applying to everyone in our society.”

“There’s this sort of consistent line in my life of wanting to give the law its due and to try to make the world more just,” he told Law360.

What can law schools do to increase focus on access to justice?

It’s always been astonishing to me that students can go through three years of legal education without ever learning that for most people who end up in court, there’ll be a lawyer on the other side and they won’t necessarily be able to afford a lawyer or be entitled to a free lawyer, at least in civil legal matters. The idea that you read case after case or decision after decision in law school, and it seems as though people are represented on both sides, when the reality is so different, is a startling idea.

I’m a champion of making sure that people who go to law school at least are exposed to and introduced to the idea of what really in our society are the courts of the poor.

What is access to justice research revealing about America’s criminal justice system?

This is actually a moment in which, in part because of the inequality across the land and the heightened perception of how unequal society is, a great deal of attention is being paid not just to the criminal justice system, but also to the civil justice system. And especially to the intersection of the two: the idea that we have just one justice system.

It’s experienced by people as a single justice system, and insofar as it’s established through history or serendipity or administrative structure to be two systems, there’s an increased understanding that people sometimes enter through one end and end up in the other.

Read full article.


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