Beyond the Courtroom: Access to Justice, Privatization, and the Future of Class Action Research

AuthorMichael Molavi
Pages7-31
7
BEYOND THE COURTROOM:
ACCESS TO JUSTICE,
PRIVATIZATION, AND THE
FUTUR E OF CLASS ACTION
RESEARCH
Michael Molavi
Abstract: This article cr itically assesse s the role of class actions
in enhancing acce ss to justice from a socio-political p erspective.
Considering the broad social, cultural, and political implica-
tions of access to justice as both a theoretical principle and a
policy objective, this ar ticle proposes that evaluations of cla ss
actions in light of access to ju stice must situate the procedure
within its proper socio-political context. To this end, a cr itical
framework is developed that focuses on the relationship of
access to justice to developments in public polic y and budget-
ing, including eff‌iciency-based privatization, with a view to
how these political dimensions affect poor and hi storically
marginalized groups.
The article proceeds in f‌ive inter related stages. First, an
overview of access to ju stice scholarship is presented through
the lens of class act ions. Second, a critical an alysis of the
role of class actions in enhancing access to justice is offered.
Third, privatization and the f‌igure of the private attorney gen-
eral is discussed. Fourth, effort s at institutionali zing funding
for class actions are addressed. Fifth, a preli minary re search
agenda is developed with an emph asis on socio-political vari-
ables such as public budgeting constraints, the inf‌luence of
ideology, and the role of legal consciousness. Highlighting the
social, cultural, and political dimen sions of class actions in
facilitating acce ss to justice, the article concludes by proposing
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that an expa nsive understanding of access to just ice demands
an expansive approach to it s study.
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