Reduce impediments to pro bono work, especially at larger law firms, such as billable-hour requirements that make significant pro bono contributions not possible, and perceptions among large-firm lawyers that they have institutional and ethical conflicts with representation, particularly in foreclosure and consumer debt-collection defense.
Expand web and telephone resources to assist clients with legal education material and support pro se litigants.
Reduce dependency on lawyers by making legal processes more comprehensible.
Continue to work with the Supreme Court's Committee on Access and Fairness to enhance court assistance and support for the unrepresented.
Continue research into the importance of legal representation for the poor, as well as the effectiveness of alternate legal strategies such as advice-only, limited service and pro se support.
FUNDING LEGISLATION ADVANCES
The fee-increase bill, S-2062, was voted out of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee in a revised version on Monday.
In March, the Assembly passed its own version, A-763, which would allow the court to raise filing fees to generate $52 million in revenue, to be known as the 21st Century Judicial Improvement Fund. The court would determine what fees should be increased and by how much.
The revenue would be split three ways: $17 million a year to help the judiciary develop its e-filing system, $10 million to supplement funding for Legal Services of New Jersey and $25 million for the Treasury's general fund to help fund 13 court-related programs, such as the Juvenile Justice Commission and Court-Appointed Special Services.
But the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee recommended passage of an amended version -- identical to S-2062, sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester -- that does not include the $25 million for court-related programs.