Access to Justice Board Initiatives
At its annual spring retreat the Access to Justice Board sets priorities for the following year. In making these decisions, the ATJ Board reviews the status of its current iniatives; recommendations from its Committees and other stakeholders in the Washington State Alliance for Equal Justice; current and pending issues requiring attention and focus by the ATJ Board; and the availability of resources.
Priorities for 2011–12 include the following:
1. Strengthening the pro bono function of the civil legal aid delivery system: The ATJ Board's Delivery Systems Committee is reviewing the State Plan and other recommendations to determine how best to deliver volunteer attorney services to low-income clients in the event of possible signficant legal aid funding reductions.
2. Implementing the Washington State Plan for Integrated Pro Se Assistance Services under the oversight of the ATJ Board's Justice Without Barriers Committee. The first step is the conversion into plain language forms of 18 family law forms. Funds for this conversion are from the Washington Supreme Court and the Office of Civil Legal Aid.
3. Securing ample funding for civil legal aid and the courts: The Equal Justice Coalition is working with the Office of Civil Legal Aid and other stakeholders to protect civil legal aid funding in the State Legislature and in Congress.
4. Promoting the implementation of JusticeNet.
5. Promoting leadership development and building organizational capacity: The State Plan calls for ATJ Board coordination of statewide leadership development. The ATJ Board's Nominating and Leadership Development Committee has completed the Design phase of a State Leadership Initiative to develop a sustainable statewide infrastructure to identify, train, and support diverse leaders who are committed to equal justice. The planning was facilitated by the Center for Legal Aid Education in Boston (CLAE), under contract with the Office of Civil Legal Aid, and with funds from the Supreme Court and Office of Civil Legal Aid.
6. Eliminating bias in the justice system, with an emphasis on racial and ethnic bias: The theme of the 2011 Access to Justice/Bar Leaders Conference is "Eliminating Bias in the Justice System: A Call to Action and Service." The ATJ Board has become increasingly involved in specific initiatiaves to elminate bias, including the current Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equity/ATJ Board sponsored Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System.
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