About the Access to Justice Program

The Louisiana State Bar Association has historically supported the concept of “Access to Justice,” and has long recognized the importance of the efforts of organizations providing for the legal needs of the indigent. The Bar has demonstrated its commitment to help meet the needs of poor Louisianans by establishing and funding the Access to Justice (ATJ) Program.

The ATJ Committee

The Access to Justice Committee was established in 1996 to consolidate the efforts of two existing LSBA committees (The Legal Services Committee and The Volunteers In Public Service Committee). As the mission states, the committee helps to strengthen an integrated delivery network by supporting all those who deliver legal services to the poor. The current committee is comprised of 40 volunteer members, both attorneys and non-attorneys, with the common interest of assisting the indigent with their legal needs. These volunteers, with various backgrounds, reside throughout Louisiana and include corporate counsel, legal service attorneys, legal educators, large and small firm representatives, and pro bono directors. The Committee facilitates the work of all legal services providers by encouraging statewide collaboration and interaction through the programs the ATJ Committee sponsors and the projects it implements.

The ATJ Department

The LSBA Access to Justice Department was established in 1997, following the establishment of the ATJ Committee, to commit full-time personnel to assist Louisiana’s legal services providers in their efforts to provide access to the court system for all people, regardless of income. Now with a staff of six, the ATJ Program provides direct support to all members of Louisiana's access to justice community.

The ATJ Policy Committee

The ATJ Policy Committee was active from 2009 through 2015. The Committee was created in response to a national trend to allow for the most effective policy development and meaningful interaction with the Bar. This 20-member ATJ Policy Committee oversaw the work of ATJ subcommittees and strengthened ties to the private bar and judiciary. While the ATJ Committee was composed primarily of individuals providing direct delivery of services and focused on the interworking of those organizations, the ATJ Policy Committee ensured leadership from a cross-section of those involved in access to justice issues. The ATJ Policy Committee met regularly to guide the activities of the ATJ Committee, determine ATJ Committee policy, and assess impact. The work of the ATJ Policy Committee members was meant to guide the forces of the ATJ Committee while ensuring the quality of the committee’s work. The ATJ Policy Committee was the precursor organization to the ATJ Commission, which was created in 2015.

The ATJ Commission

As access to justice issues became more critical and began to have broader impact nationwide, the ABA encouraged states to form entities similar to the LSBA Policy Committee, including prominent stakeholders and calling these groups Access to Justice Commissions. These were cooperative endeavors among state supreme courts, state bar associations, IOLTA entities, law schools, business organizations and some faith-based entities to focus jointly on identified justice problems in their state. Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson expressed an interest in forming a commission and, after consideration at a summit of stakeholders, signed an order on September 17, 2015 creating the Louisiana ATJ Commission. The Louisiana Access to Justice Commission is a standing committee of the LSBA. The mission of the 21-member ATJ Commission, as stated in the order, is “to assure continuity of policy and purpose in the collaboration between the private bar, the courts, and the civil justice community so as to further the goal of assuring that Louisianans, regardless of their economic circumstance, have access to equal justice under the law.” The Commission held its first meeting at the Supreme Court on January 8, 2016 and established six committees. Currently, the six ATJ Commission Committees are: Building Bridges, Funding, Language Access, Modest Means, SRL/Uniform Forms and Technology.
Louisiana State Bar Association
601 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
(800) 421-LSBA(5722) / (504) 566-1600