In the real world justice denied is not justice. Talking from the beginning about access to justice, rather than simply justice, emphasizes in a salutary way this commonplace of citizen and client. Justice that is inaccessible, delayed, refused does not just sit there glowing like a grail, which those separated from it may contemplate and yearn for. It is only in imagining that justice is available to someone, and in imagining what it would be like to be that someone, that one can see the thing as justice at all. To put it in economic terms, justice is not a commodity, the production of which can be analyzed apart from its distribution. Who gets justice very much determines what it is they are getting, whether, that is, it is justice. But this said, it is also true that there must be something going on inside the legal system that makes worthwhile all the efforts to gain access to it. Justice may not be justice if someone does not have it, but someone can have all there is to have and still not have justice. There can be full access, and still no justice. Arrangements can be made so that everyone can crowd around the table, but there must be something more than cold and empty plates there. What one has access to is surely as important as the access, and it is this, the what, that I wish to talk about in this paper.
Vining, Joseph. "Justice, Bureaucracy, and Legal Method." Mich. L. Rev. 80 (1981): 248-58.