How to Improve Access to Justice in Your State

By Hon. Chad Schmucker
President, The National Judicial College

We can all agree on the goal of improving Access to Justice but we may not agree on the best way to accomplish it. Let’s talk about the role of high-quality judicial education programs in improving Access to Justice. Almost every course at The National Judicial College will result in improved Access to Justice. But there are a few courses that really focus on it. Best Practices for Cases with Self-Represented Litigants; Ethics, Fairness and Security in your Court and Community; and Enhancing Judicial Bench Skills all have a primary focus on improving Access to Justice. These courses are offered every year and each of these courses can be brought to an individual state just for your judges.

But improving access to justice one judge at a time can be a slow process. Is there a way to achieve the goal quicker? Yes there is.

After judges have improved their Access to Justice skills through an educational program they should also complete a leadership course which will allow them to educate and influence the other judges in your state. The National Judicial College has three courses that can improve the leadership and training skills of judges.

Leadership for Judges, Designing and Presenting Programs Effectively: a Faculty Development Workshop, and Management Skills for Presiding Judges are courses designed for emerging leaders and judicial educators. When judges committed to improving access to justice complete one of these courses, they will be in a much better position to improve the system not only in their individual court but in the courts of your whole state.

To improve Access to Justice in your state you need a plan, and you need to invest in a plan. The NJC has been committed to improving access to justice for many years and we would welcome the opportunity to partner with your state. You should consider these educational programs as part of your plan to improve access to justice in your state.

State court judges attending these NJC courses are eligible for a State Justice Institute scholarship of $1,000, so the cost of attending these programs is not as much as you’d expect. Let us know if you need any more information about our courses, the costs or available scholarships. We look forward to working with you.

To learn more about financial assistance to attend NJC programs, please send an email to or call us at (800) 25-JUDGE.

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