Wyoming Judicial Branch

Access to Justice Commission

Contact Information

Ronda Munger
2301 Capitol Ave
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Phone: 307.777.7590
Email: rmunger@courts.state.wy.us

The mission of the Wyoming Access to Justice Commission is to promote fair and equal access to civil justice in Wyoming.

To further that mission, the commission’s five-year strategic plan, covering 2015-2020, focuses on three initiatives to promote equal access to justice for Wyoming citizens:

Initiative # 1: Continued Support for Legal Services in Wyoming.

The Wyoming Access to Justice Commission was instrumental in obtaining legislation to create a funding mechanism for legal aid programs through a $10 filing fee or assessment on all cases. These fees generate approximately $1.4 million annually to help fund legal aid for those who cannot otherwise afford it. The commission is committed to supporting continued and stable funding for legal services. Over the next five years, the commission will monitor the stability of current state funding generated from filing fees, support efforts to increase funding for legal services and access to justice initiatives, and explore additional methods to increase funding, including pro hac vice fees, cy pres awards, as well as other potential sources.

The need for legal services far exceeds the resources available to meet the demand. 175,000 Wyoming residents financially qualify for legal aid services. Although over 3,000 people receive assistance from legal aid providers each year, there is still a large unmet need. National studies find that only about 20% of the legal needs of the low-income are currently being met. There also continue to be geographic areas of Wyoming that are underserved.

The Commission will communicate the need for and use of the funds to stakeholders, including the legislature, legal community, and the public.

The Commission will raise public awareness of this issue and investigate various methods for delivery of legal services over the next five years, including:

  1. Alternative models for delivery of legal services;
  2. Development of resources for self-represented litigants in Wyoming Courts;
  3. Form working groups to identify and address barriers to access to justice;
  4. Identify and propose methods for reaching currently underserved segments of the Wyoming population;
  5. Investigate underserved areas of the state;
  6. Strengthen ties with the University of Wyoming colleges and departments with connections to low-income populations, in addition to the College of Law.

Initiative # 2: Communications and Public Awareness.

The Wyoming Access to Justice Commission seeks to strengthen communications and public awareness of legal resources to three groups: (1) Wyoming’s legal community including lawyers and judges; (2) Wyoming legislators and other government leaders; and (3) the general public.

  • Wyoming Legal Community.
    • Over the next five years, the Commission will continue to develop communications to inform all Wyoming lawyers and judges about legal services and programs offered by legal service providers across the state.
  • Wyoming Legislature and Other Governmental Leaders.
    • The Commission is not an advocacy organization. Nevertheless, it serves as a clearinghouse to receive comments from legal services providers, legal services clients and others about issues in accessing affordable legal representation. Any questions or concerns regarding access to justice issues, laws, or court rules should be directed to Ronda Munger at rmunger@courts.state.wy.us
  • All Wyoming Citizens.
    • The Commission seeks to educate the public about the importance of equal access to justice and the need for increased resources to provide access to justice. The Commission plans to hold a series of town hall meetings around the state, to increase awareness and identify access to justice issues faced by Wyoming citizens. The Commission also sponsors civic education programs such as “You Be the Judge” (hyperlink info), “iCivics” (hyperlink info), and other relevant programs throughout the state. The Commission is currently in the planning stages of developing a high school program that trains teachers on how to incorporate access to justice issues into their curriculum.

Initiative # 3: Inspiring Pro Bono Service by Wyoming Attorneys.

The Wyoming Access to Justice Commission has partnered with Equal Justice Wyoming and the Wyoming State Bar to support and expand pro bono (free) legal services for Wyoming’s low income population. Since the launch of the pro bono campaign, lawyer participation in the statewide Volunteer Lawyers Program has increased by 185%. More than 140 attorneys have pledged to provide pro bono legal services and more than 200 low-income individuals received assistance through the pro bono program in 2015.

Equal Justice Wyoming manages a statewide network of pro bono attorneys addressing civil legal needs. The Wyoming State Bar helps recruit volunteer lawyers through the joint “I’ll Do One” pro bono campaign in partnership with Equal Justice Wyoming.

  • Equal Justice Wyoming provides free malpractice insurance, legal resources, training and mentor attorneys for all volunteer attorneys doing pro bono work through the formal pro bono program.
  • Licensed Wyoming attorneys interested in providing pro bono legal services may contact Equal Justice Wyoming at wcla@courts.state.wy.us, or (307) 777-8383, or to volunteer for the “I’ll Do One” pro bono program, sign up here: www.probono.wy.gov
  • Equal Justice Wyoming conducts free legal advice clinics staffed by volunteer attorneys. In-person advice clinics are offered monthly in Cheyenne while online clinics are currently available in Evanston, Cody, Thermopolis, Douglas, and Newcastle. Clinics are held periodically in other locations across the state by Equal Justice Wyoming, local bar associations, and other legal aid providers. For a list of statewide clinics and legal services events, see the calendar of events at www.legalhelp.wy.gov.
  • Equal Justice Wyoming is continually developing best practices for administering volunteer legal services to the citizens of Wyoming, and expanding the support provided to Wyoming’s volunteer attorneys.
  • The Commission also welcomes inquiries from possible public and private partners to expand pro bono legal services in Wyoming. If interested, please contact Equal Justice Wyoming at (307) 777-8383 or at wcla@courts.state.wy.us.

About the AJC

The Access to Justice Commission was established by Court order on December 16, 2008. Its mission is to promote fair and equal access to civil justice in Wyoming.

Commission Minutes