By Rebecca L. Sandefur, American Bar Foundation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Chapaign

This report presents findings from a new study of public experience with civil justice situations, the Community Needs and Services Study (CNSS), funded by the National Science Foundation and the American Bar Foundation.

The study was conducted in a middle-sized city (approximately 350,000 to 450,000 residents) located in the Midwestern region of the United States. Called here Middle City, the study city is typical of many US communities in terms of its size and socioeconomic and demographic composition; thus, its residents’ experiences are expected to represent typical experiences in the US context. Middle City looks much like the Midwest, with a population that is less Hispanic or Latino than the nation at large and a poverty rate around 17%.