An estimated 600,000 people live at or below poverty in Mississippi. With one legal services lawyer per every 21,000 eligible individuals, the challenges are great, but the desire to achieve justice for all is greater. While many organizations in Mississippi have long been committed to improving the delivery of civil legal services to the poor, there was no single entity that was representative of all such organizations. Recognizing the need for a single unifying entity to bring together the various providers of civil legal services, the Mississippi Supreme Court created the Access to Justice Commission on June 28, 2006, becoming the 23rd state to appoint such a commission. With the proposed development of a unified strategy to improve access to the civil courts for the poor, a vision was born. Funded through the generous support of the Mississippi Supreme Court, The Mississippi Bar and The Mississippi Bar Foundation, the Commission aims to make a difference for one, for all.
The mission of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission is to develop a unified strategy to improve access to justice in civil legal proceedings for the poor in Mississippi.
To accomplish our mission, the Commission was empowered by the Mississippi Supreme Court to:
The Mississippi Access to Justice Commission is currently comprised of three Committees – Delivery System, Public Awareness and Resource Development – and two Subcommittees – Faith-Based Initiatives and Medical-Legal Partnership. The Delivery System Committee oversees the development of an expanded and improved system for providing civil legal services to low income people. The Resource Development Committee is tasked with developing a long-term plan to increase funding to civil legal services programs. The Public Awareness Committee works to educate the Bar, governmental leaders and the public about the scope of the need for legal services. The Faith-Based Initiatives Subcommittee seeks to foster partnerships between the legal and religious communities in Mississippi to help expand access to justice to the state’s poor. Finally, the Medical-Legal Partnership Subcommittee was formed to explore ways the legal and medical communities can work together to reach more Mississippians in need of assistance. Committees often include non-Commission members.