Excerpts from The World Justice Project: A Sustained Commitment To The Rule Of Law, an article in The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. The Editor interviews William H. Neukom:
Every city in our country is disadvantaged by poverty. While everyone understands that there are root causes of poverty, no community is paying sufficient attention to the problem of poverty because other needs clamor for attention and too often prevent the poverty issue from being adequately aired. To the extent that the legal problems of poor people are heard in the courts, however, society as a whole has an opportunity to see this issue at first hand and, hopefully, consider ways in which it might be addressed. Access to justice for the poor, in criminal matters, to be sure, but also legal services in certain types of civil cases for those otherwise incapable of retaining a lawyer, are ways in which society can address poverty and, over time, reduce that poverty.
When people say to me that legal services for the poor is a huge legal issue, I respond by saying it is a huge community issue. Our communities are suffering from poverty, and even if as an individual I am not, I am a member of the community. Access to education, access to heathcare, job opportunities – in addition to access to a fair and impartial system of justice – all of these things contribute to the elimination of poverty and the creation of a society in which we all wish to live.