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The ABF Welcomes Matthew Burnett as Senior Program Officer for the Access to Justice Research Initiative

September 10, 2021, ABF news

Matthew Burnett will join the American Bar Foundation (ABF) in November 2021 as Senior Program Officer for the Access to Justice Research Initiative. In this new role, he will be responsible for developing and expanding a collaboration network of scholars, policymakers, funders, and practitioners to expand capacity to conduct and apply rigorous and actionable social scientific research about access to justice, poverty, and inequality.

"We are excited to welcome Matthew, with his wealth of experience across the justice sector and around the world, to this critical new role,” said Access to Justice Scholars Program Director and ABF Faculty Fellow Rebecca Sandefur. “The ABF is poised to move to the next level in its efforts to help make justice real and accessible.  Through Matthew’s work, the ABF can nurture  rich and fruitful connections that enable new advances in  access to justice research and its contributions to policy and practice.”

The Senior Program Officer role will work closely with the leadership of the Access to Justice Research Initiative and other scholars to advance access to justice research and its impact on policy and practice. Burnett will promote dissemination and use of research to improve access to justice in the U.S., collaborate with U.S. and global researchers and research networks to support collaboration and knowledge sharing, and cultivate strategic partnerships with relevant state, national, and international access to justice stakeholders.

Burnett comes to the ABF from the Open Society Foundations (OSF), where he worked as Senior Policy Officer for Legal Empowerment at the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI). His work included leading OSJI’s migrant worker project, supporting OSF partners in Puerto Rico on housing justice and displacement, providing technical assistance and field building support to legal empowerment efforts by OSF regional and national foundations in the US, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, and global advocacy and coordination on access to civil justice and Sustainable Development Goal 16.3. Prior to his work with the Open Society Foundations, Burnett helped to launch the Immigration Advocates Network, first as associate director from 2007-2011 and then as director from 2011-2017.

Burnett has a J.D. from Seattle University School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Washington. During law school, he served as law clerk to Justice ZM Yacoob of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and as an article and content development editor for the Seattle Journal for Social Justice law journal.

Burnett has written and presented extensively on a variety of civil access to justice topics, including legal empowerment, innovation, financing, and regulatory reform. He is co-author of the forthcoming publication, Making the Law Work for People: A Handbook on Legal Empowerment and Inclusive Innovation, and sits on the World Bank Taskforce on Access to Justice and Technology.

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