More Arkansans than ever before are living in poverty. Courts are seeing steady increases in the numbers of individuals who are unable to afford attorneys to help them navigate legal issues involving basic human needs. Meaningful access to civil legal help can eliminate barriers that often prevent low-income Arkansans from accessing such services as health care, education, proper nutrition, and housing. Likewise, meaningful access to these services can diminish the need for legal intervention. The intersection of these issues among the poor necessarily calls for multidisciplinary approaches if we are to succeed in reducing poverty in Arkansas.
The Arkansas Access to Justice Commission, Clinton School of Public Service, and William H. Bowen School of Law are co-hosting a conference May 29-30, 2012, that will bring together members of the legal, medical, education, business, government, and nonprofit sectors to develop strategies for how the legal system can address issues that perpetuate poverty. The conference will include speakers and work groups that will focus on such topics as education, health, housing, and hunger. U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will offer the closing keynote address at the conclusion of the conference. There is no cost to participate.