The Winter 2019 issue of Daedalus, the prestigious quarterly journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is the first open access issue in the journal’s history. The decision to offer the volume for free is an indication of the Academy’s concern about the crisis in legal services.

According to a recent report of the Legal Services Corporation, 71 percent of low-income households experienced at least one civil legal problem in the previous year, yet they received inadequate or no legal help in 86 percent of the problems they reported.

The consequences were often devastating, since unrepresented litigants are at a distinct disadvantage in disputes over health care, housing conditions, veterans’ benefits, domestic violence, and access for people with disabilities, among other problems.

The “Access to Justice” issue, edited by Rebecca Sandefur, Lance Leibman, and Lincoln Caplan, examines the crisis from a variety of perspectives. It is an important contribution to a public conversation that is nonpartisan, national, and of increasing urgency.

Open access allows the Academy to circulate its journal the way it circulates the results of it projects and studies, to the widest possible audience.

But open access is not, in itself, a guarantee that the issue will find readers. To reach its intended audiences, the Academy needs partners who are willing to help with distribution and publicity. That is why First Idea Communications is working with the Academy to build grassroots interest among the lawyers; legal services providers; local, state and federal courts; law schools, and others who have been waiting for a detailed overview of the problem, like this issue, to help them make the case for changes, reforms, and innovations in the prevision of legal services.

By partnering with the Legal Services Corporation, the American Bar Association, the Self-Litigation Network, state and federal courts, and others, the Academy is putting this issue of Daedalus into the hands of the people who are in the best position to use it, and use it effectively.

Impact, in this case, depends on collaboration…a specialty of First Idea Communications.

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