In the legal profession, access to justice is an ethical position taken by the ABA that all members of the legal community have a responsibility to ensure that all persons can obtain access to legal services so that justice can be served. The way access to justice has been traditionally delivered is that members of the legal profession would volunteer their time directly to clients or to clients through a court program. Each attorney would be encouraged to provide free or “pro bono” legal services but not required to provide such services (each state bar, however, can approach this solution differently).
The solution worked well (but not perfectly) for a period of time when an average person’s need for legal services was minimal. However, overtime and particularly during the 1960’s, the gap between wheat members of the legal community were able to provide under access to justice pro bono services, and what was needed, grew to outstrip the existing solution. This is when Congress stepped in and appropriated money to establish Legal Aid offices around the country to provide free or sliding scale legal services to the public.
This service worked well to bridge the gap between demand for legal services and the ability of persons to pay for those services, but over time this important public service suffered from Congressional neglect (steadily decreased funding) which permitted the gap to grow even larger than before these services were considered to be a public good.
This brings us to dispute resolution services. What we are seeing in the provision of dispute resolution services is the same problem, as the need for dispute resolution services have expanded, the ability of the average person to pay for these services have decreased. This is true even though court mandated programs fix charges are levels fairly low for the average person. The reality today is mediators are now in the same position lawyers have been for over a hundred years, how to help ensure that persons who need dispute resolution services can obtain those services. This means that the mediation profession is now facing those concerns, and the legal profession now includes The Access to Dispute Resolution problem in the provision of dispute resolution services.
How is the Knowledge Firm responding to The Access to Dispute Resolution problem? We are responding by providing sliding fee scale for dispute resolution services. We are doing this under the rubric of social responsibility – we believe that all persons should have the ability to resolve their disputes by communicating not litigating their disputes. We reserve three hours per week to meet with persons who request consideration under our commitment to social responsibility to determine how we can help them and how a reasonable fee structure can be created for them.
If you need our help under our commitment to Access to Dispute Resolution, please contact us.