Talk Justice, an LSC Podcast: Taking Community Justice Workers Nationwide


Carl Rauscher          
Director of Communications and Media Relations    

Contact Us


WASHINGTON– Former Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC) Executive Director and current Frontline Justice Founding CEO Nikole Nelson joins LSC President Ron Flagg for a conversation on using community justice workers to expand access to legal services on the latest episode of LSC's “Talk Justice” podcast, released today. 


Nelson appeared on a previous episode of “Talk Justice” to discuss ALSC’s success with training justice workers to provide rural communities and remote tribes with limited-scope legal services. At the end of 2023, she moved to Frontline Justice to further expand her focus on community justice workers as a way to address the justice gap. The creation of Frontline Justice was possible through the Office of American Possibilities, a launchpad program for “civic moonshot” projects that seek to create big, bipartisan solutions to important problems facing the country. 

“Essentially, this team has come together with the mission of really trying to, over the next decade, make community justice workers possible throughout the U.S.,” Nelson says. 

Frontline Justice is co-chaired by Director of the Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University, Dr. Rebecca Sandefur; former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Obama, Cecilia Munoz, and former Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council under President Bush, John Bridgeland.

“We want to grow best-in-class tools and training and resources to help justice workers thrive in the communities where they are,” says Nelson. “And then also help change the narrative in the U.S. around actually what we should expect from our civil justice system and make sure that everybody understands that universal access to right size, on-demand legal assistance is within the realm of possibility if we think a little differently about the way that we're delivering it.”

In her tenure leading ALSC, Alaska’s only statewide provider of free civil legal aid, Nelson saw the arc of the justice worker initiative start from an innovative idea to a successful program boasting over 300 trained participants. She explains that the impetus for Alaska’s initiative came from the state Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Committee which convened in 2016. The group analyzed what the state’s strongest and most widespread service providers were that legal aid could leverage to expand access to justice, and identified Alaska’s healthcare institutions. This evolved into a medical-legal partnership program between ALSC and the tribally operated healthcare system. 

"We realized that our healthcare partners had really been trying to address the same issues that we had for about 40 years, and they had a lot of really great ideas and some of those related to stratifying the practice of health,” Nelson says. 

This partnership inspired the legal aid program to attempt a new model for trained professional non-lawyer justice workers, similar to how the medical system has diversified healthcare providers beyond just doctors and nurses in order to more effectively meet community needs. 


Now, Nelson will take what she’s learned from that program and her 25 years of legal aid work to Frontline Justice with the goal of pushing the whole country closer to closing the justice gap. 

“Let's get going,” Nelson says. “I mean, this crisis is on fire, right? Nationally, 92% of people who have civil legal needs are not having them met, and I remember a time when it was 80%—the crisis is getting worse.” 

“The time for waiting has passed—let's start experimenting, let's start moving things forward that might actually address the justice gap,” she continues. “Let’s start now."

Talk Justice episodes are available online and on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple and other popular podcast apps. The podcast is sponsored by LSC’s Leaders Council.   

Future episodes of the podcast will feature a conversation about legal tech advancements that aren’t based in artificial intelligence, and also a look at a new resource for natural disaster victims in the U.S.’s heartland. 

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974. For 50 years, LSC has provided financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 131 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.