By Hon. Nathan L. Hecht, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Texas and Hon. Thomas L. Kilbride, Justice, Supreme Court of Illinois (Chief Justice, 2010-13).
Illinois and Texas, along with 30 other states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have created access to justice commissions that bring together the courts, the bar, civil legal aid providers, law schools, and other partners, such as legislators and business and community leaders, to address barriers to civil justice for low-income and other disadvantaged people. A number of state supreme courts are actively considering new commissions. The experiences of Texas and Illinois, one with a well-established commission and one with a brand new one, demonstrate what effective access to justice commissions can accomplish.