Justice Facts

CEJ AND YOU: Making "Equal Justice Under Law" A Reality

  • Nearly 850,000 low-income and elderly Oregonians qualify for the services of Oregon’s 100 legal aid attorneys; that’s one attorney for every 8,500 persons. For the general population there is one attorney for every 340 persons.
  • Our legal system is complex, and courts can be like a maze for non-lawyers. Without lawyers, people cannot meaningfully access the legal system to present meritorious claims and defenses.
  • A statewide legal needs study found that 70% of respondents who were represented by a legal aid attorney had a favorable view of the legal system, even when the issue was not resolved in their favor. Of respondents who did not have access to legal counsel, 75% had an unfavorable view of the legal system.
  • Oregon’s Chief Justice Thomas Balmer estimated in 2012 in Oregon family law cases, 80% of cases had one self-represented party, and in 50% both parties were self-represented. This puts a great burden on the court system, as judges and court staff spend extra time with self-represented litigants in an effort to make fair rulings. The resulting drain on court time affects all court users, regardless of income.
  • According to the comprehensive Oregon Legal Needs Study completed in 2000, more than 80% of the legal needs of low to moderate income Oregonians were going unserved each year. Today, the figure is closer to 85%.


Justice David Brewer speaks about access to justice at CEJ's 2011 Annual Awards Luncheon

  • Legal aid services are limited to critical needs: food, shelter, medical care, income maintenance and physical safety. About 34% of the cases are family law cases, usually helping the victims of domestic violence to obtain and enforce restraining orders and create a stable home environment for their children. Recent studies have shown that access to legal services is essential in the process of ending domestic violence.
  • We estimate that your donation will help legal services programs directly serve about 22,000 low-income clients this year. Legal aid stretches limited resources by providing self-help materials and pro bono programs. OregonLawHelp.org, legal aid’s self-help website, had more than 230,000 visitors last year.