Large law firms can play a pivotal role in creating better access to the justice system for the indigent in the United States — and have plenty of incentive to do so.

That was the clear message from two jurists — U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam Sheldon of the Southern District of Texas and Judge Michael Noble of Missouri’s 22nd Judicial Circuit in St. Louis — who spoke Wednesday as part of a national town hall conversation about access to justice sponsored by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. The discussion, which touched on issues of representation in civil, family and immigration law matters as well, sought to generate ideas for how the trial advocacy group could help improve the plight of poor Americans who often have inadequate access, if any, to legal representation.