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Access to Justice Structure

In 2003, the Oklahoma Bar Association created a new Access to Justice Committee
charged with developing and implementing a plan to make access to justice a reality for
all Oklahomans. The Committee, which deals with access to both criminal and civil
justice, is currently chaired by the Board Chair of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. Its
membership includes volunteer private attorneys and judges. The Oklahoma Bar
Association is exploring the possibility of creating an Access to Justice Commission.

Key Initiatives


In 1996, with the support of the bar and courts, the Oklahoma State Legislature created
the Legal Services Revolving Fund and made a first-year appropriation of $450,000 to
the Fund. Funding has increased twice since then: in 1998 to $600,000 and in 2000 to
$830,000. The funds are dedicated to family law casework, with priority to cases
involving domestic abuse.

The Oklahoma Bar Foundation, which provides the majority of its funding to Legal Aid
Services of Oklahoma, is seeking mandatory IOLTA participation by all Oklahoma

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma is conducting a statewide fundraising campaign, with a
goal of $1.5 million. Past ABA President William Paul is chairing the campaign. As of
March 2004, the fund drive had passed the half-way mark.

       Pro Bono

The Pro Bono Subcommittee of the Access to Justice Committee is exploring ways to
increase pro bono participation and expand the definition of what pro bono service can
include. Specific efforts will target law students and law school personnel. The
subcommittee presented a program at the Oklahoma State Judicial Conference in
November 2003 on the role of the judiciary in increasing pro bono participation. It is also
seeking to place articles on pro bono in special-interest bar journals.

       Access to Courts

The Legal Services Subcommittee of the Access to Justice Committee is exploring ways
to provide support for the increased numbers of self-represented litigants in the courts,
including development of standardized forms and training for court clerks. Particular
attention is being focused on problems associated with the translation of forms and
notices into Spanish. The subcommittee is formulating a survey to be distributed to the
trial courts to explore and identify problems experienced by trial judges in dealing with
pro se litigants.

Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma has placed a prototype self-help kiosk in the Tulsa
County Court House.


Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma was created as a new statewide LSC-funded program at
the beginning of 2002.

Development of a centralized intake system serving the entire state is underway.
Numerous stakeholders, including Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Indian
Legal Services, and social services agencies, are participating in the planning process.