The Florida Supreme Court has begun an “access to justice” initiative.  It attempts to meet the legal needs of lower middle class Americans.  In an editorial written for the Miami Herald, Chief Justice Jorge Labarga announced that the Florida Supreme Court established the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice to address the problem of Floridians who earn too much to qualify for legal aid and yet can’t afford an attorney.[1]

In 1950, Justice Robert H. Jackson of the United States Supreme Court wrote an essay entitled The County Seat Lawyer.[2]  In the essay, in describing the vanished county seat lawyer, Justice Jackson stated the following  “. . . He rarely declined service to worthy ones because of inability to pay.  Once enlisted for a client, he took his obligation seriously. . .”  He stated further, “. . .The law to him was like religion, and its practice was more than a means of support; it was a mission. . .”

As the legal profession addresses its current problems in providing service to our communities, we can learn from the county seat lawyers of the past.  As Florida Bar President, Ramón A. Abadin has stated “The citizens of Florida deserve affordable, accessible resolution of their disputes, and it is our duty to see that our courts are available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.”[3]

by Patrick Gaffney

by Patrick Gaffney

[1](January 5, 2015).  Labarga, Jorge and Coleman, Gregory W.  Improving Access to Justice in Florida.  Miami Herald.  Retrieved from

[2] Jackson, Robert H.  The County Seat Lawyer.  36 A.B.A. J. 497 1950.

[3] Abadin, Ramón A.  It’s the Season to be Grateful, Mindful, and Reflective.  The Florida Bar Journal. December 2015.