Our Work

Enhancing Access to Justice

There is a crisis in the state civil court systems across the country.  Courts that were built as venues for problem-solving by counseled participants, are confronting the fact that anywhere from 30% to 90% of the people now appearing in state civil courts do not have lawyers.  This is true in high volume courts like Family Court, Housing Court, Small Claims Court, and in consumer debt collection matters.   Building from the innovation and modernization efforts compelled by the pandemic, the Center supports state courts in their efforts to re-imagine how better to serve these customers in the oftentimes labyrinthine state civil court systems.  In collaboration with key community and court stakeholders, the Center has begun to provide technical support and guidance to state courts seeking to build sustainable access to justice problem solving, programming and policies.  The Center aims to be a place where court administrators and the public can convene to develop processes that help litigants solve their problems equitably and efficiently.  Ultimately, we want to use the resources and talents available to the Center from the NYU community and its supporters to work with judges and courts nationwide to build a more accessible, problem-solving civil court system.  We want to help ensure justice to self-represented and marginalized communities in housing, family, consumer collection and small claims matters.

Supporting Complex Litigation

In keeping with our goal of improving courts for litigants without lawyers, we are also mindful that our courts must stay abreast of technological advances to better serve those who come to court with complex matters.  Indeed, we believe that the changes we are working toward for litigants without lawyers can also lead to efficiencies in complex litigation. Thus the Center continues to learn from the sophisticated practitioners who make up its Board of Advisors, about ways to improve efficiencies and access for all litigants.

To that end, the Center on Civil Justice will continue to serve as a forum for addressing perplexing and critical problems in complex civil litigation.  For example has convened top-level panels to discuss topical and timely issues related to Arbitration, Litigation Finance, State Court Practice and Class Actions in the United States and Europe. Our convenings bring together students, practitioners, and academics to share their experiences and viewpoints in ways that seek to be instructive to all involved.  Topics planned for the upcoming year include: the impact of Artificial Intelligence on legal education and the practice of law; a discussion of the Upsolve case; new trends in bankruptcy and more.

Employing Artificial Intelligence

The legal profession and legal education are already deeply impacted by the use of Artificial Intelligence.  The development of AI presents challenges and opportunities for civil courts and civil litigants – including understanding when and how to use AI to enhance and augment civil court litigation and to make information and data more accessible. The Center has long been committed to addressing the ways in which advances in AI are daily impacting the work of the complex litigation practitioners, such as  technology-assisted review of documents, aspects of legal research, contract analytics, predictive analytics, computer generation of documents, and work automation and process improvement. In addition, the Center has begun to address the ways in which AI can be used – with the proper guide rails – as a tool for enhancing access to the civil courts by stream-lining civil court litigation and for enhancing information access for self-represented persons.

In applying these principles, the Center is partnering with the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), one of the world's largest standards-setting bodies, to develop an ESI Protocol that will help attorneys and judges select and use AI-based e-discovery software in a way that meets the Law Committee of the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems' four principles of the trustworthy adoption of AI: Effectiveness, Competence, Accountability, and Transparency.  We hope this protocol will improve both the selection of the right AI tools to match a given case's discovery plan and the proper use of these tools.

Dispute Financing Library

The Dispute Financing Library is a neutral repository for documents and media related to third-party litigation funding. The Library contains statutes, case law, legislative history, agency documents, articles, news stories, videos, and more. Most of the documents are full-text searchable, and many are freely available to download.  The site is currently online, and you can access it by clicking here.  

The Library was unveiled at the 2019 Harvard Litigation Finance Symposium, and it has been covered in the Litigation Finance JournalAbove the Law, and the McDonald Hopkins Business Exchange Podcast.