The nonprofit group Legal Link and I have co-authored a new working paper on the role of Community Navigators in access to justice work.
Legal Link has been an innovator in this space, developing new models to train social service providers and other community leaders to become legal navigators. This means that they can help screen people coming in for social, housing, financial, or other services for legal issues. Especially since research has shown that many people aren’t aware that their life problem has a legal dimension (and that a lawyer can help them resolve it) — this screening and referral to legal help is key to getting smarter, earlier assistance to people.
Our Legal Design Lab team has also been working closely with the NAACP on its HOusing Navigator program in South Carolina, where we have seen the effectiveness of training broader community members to help people through complicated and stressful legal procedures.
This working paper profiles different models of navigators, discusses how and why these programs can exist, and lays out metrics for evaluating them.