Please see highlights from the recent Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission Meeting, access to justice news and information on an upcoming access to justice conference.

Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission October 21 Meeting Highlights

Thank you to the Commissioners and guests who joined us for our meeting on Thursday, October 21, 2021. Commission Co-Chairs kicked off the 2021-2022 Commission year by sharing an overview of current priorities, which include focusing on the simplification of processes for court users, the importance of data collection in identifying access to justice concerns, and racial justice in all Commission activities.


Highlighting the Commission’s priority of data, Melaine Malcom, Research Manager, and Lee Kavanagh, Director of Research and Planning, Executive Office of the Trial Court, along with Commissioners Hon. Robert Fields, Esme Caramello, Joel Feldman and Laura Gal, Co-Chair, shared insight on processes for data collection and analysis in the Trial Court by discussing a data collection project done in connection with fee-shifting in eviction cases.


The Commission also welcomed its seven new Commission members and shared its appreciation to outgoing ex officio Commissioner, Elizabeth Ennen, Esq., Director, Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) at Northeastern University School of Law, for her dedication to improving access to justice in the Commonwealth.


Access to Justice News

I am pleased to share the news that U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland announced the restoration of a standalone Office for Access to Justice within the Department of Justice (for more details, see DOJ Press Release of October 29, 2021). 


In addition, the Department of Justice publicly released the Attorney General’s Report to the President Pursuant to the President’s Memorandum on Restoring the Department of Justice’s Access-to-Justice Function (dated September 15, 2021). In this Report, Attorney General Garland describes the results of the Justice Department’s extensive 120-day stakeholder review.


Finally, the White House and Justice Department today jointly released the 2021 Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable (LAIR) report, entitled Access to Justice in the Age of COVID-19: A Roundtable Report (dated September 2021).


We are excited to see this national attention to access to justice.


Upcoming Conference: National Access to Justice Meeting 2021, Virtual on December 2-3

The National Meeting of State Access to Justice Commission chairs is hosted by the ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives and is convened on an annual basis.  The meeting convenes stakeholders engaged in state-level partnerships to expand access to civil justice. The 20th annual National ATJ Meeting will take place as a virtual two-day conference on December 2-3, 2021. More information and registration here. All are welcome to this virtual conference.