While LSC will in the future be releasing a full Report from this week’s Access to Justice Technology Summit, I thought it appropriate to share some of my own personal impressions and hopes.
It was a powerful event, with a strong consensus at the end in support of a transformative goal and a five component agenda in support of that goal.
The goal: providing some access services to 100% of those unable to obtain access to justice because of financial barriers.
The five chosen components bring together the major themes and opportunities for the next few years. The components (in my own words and my own order):
- Distance services supported by a customer portal (hopefully integrating access to both legal and court services, if possible, and including ways for litigants to generate, e-file and save their own documents.)
- Mobile access to such services with location aware tools.
- Universally available and comprehensive document assembly services (this one is very much about making full use of an already significantly deployed innovation.
- Checklists and protocols for optimization of both the effectiveness and efficiency of services to litigants.
- Triage to tie all this together with data generated algorithms that route litigants and others to the most cost effective way of getting meaningful access.
For each of these components, we detailed a deployment strategy. In the case of triage, for example, we agreed that we needed a court/legal aid laboratory to test and track triage rules developed by experts, tested by research, and then to use aggregated data to modify and improve those protocols.
Indeed, the need for cooperation with courts and other partners was a theme running though most of the Summit. Few, if any, of the components can work properly if developed by legal aid alone (the exception may be the checklist/protocols component).
Part of the long-term implementation challenge is to develop the cooperative relationships with courts, bar and community partners that are required to make this interrelated system work. The management of the initiative will need to include elements of regular communication and perhaps shared decision-making with leadership of all the stakeholder groups. This alone could be transformative, and we need to start working on it now.
Congratulations again to John Greacen, the Summit consultant, and LSC and its leadership for committing to this initiative. We now anxiously await the Final Report on the Summit.