Roles Beyond Lawyers: Evaluation of the New York City Court Navigators Program

A new study by the American Bar Foundation (ABF), National Center for State Courts (NCSC), and supported by the Public Welfare Foundation, confirms the efficacy of a new solution to the growing access to justice crisis in American civil courts.

The study was conducted by Rebecca L. Sandefur, faculty fellow at the ABF, and Thomas M. Clarke, vice president of research and technology at the NCSC. Sandefur and Clarke assessed the appropriateness and sustainability of the New York City Navigators Program. The program provides “navigators” — trained and supervised individuals without full, formal legal training — to unrepresented litigants in New York City’s civil courts. The study was conducted in Brooklyn’s Housing Court.

The report, “Roles Beyond Lawyers: Evaluation of the New York City Court Navigators Program and its Three Pilot Projects,” shows that the outcome of most eviction cases depends less on the merits of the case and more on whether tenants have access to legal help.