Hopefully today’s editorial will help spread the word nationally about the court navigators and other innovations proposed by CJ Lippman.
New York State’s chief judge, Jonathan Lippman, is making some innovative changes to the education and training of lawyers as well as to the workings of the court system that bear close watching around the country.
Starting next year, a new program will let third-year law students take the bar exam in February instead of July, in exchange for spending their last semester doing free legal work for the poor under the supervision of seasoned attorneys. . .
Judge Lippman is also seeking to have more non-lawyers assist unrepresented litigants in housing, consumer debt and other cases. A pilot project in Brooklyn and the Bronx will allow trained non-lawyers called “court navigators” to accompany unrepresented litigants to court and respond to questions from a judge, though not address the court on their own. The legal profession has no reason to feel threatened by this since the navigators will be helping people who cannot afford a lawyer and have no alternative form of representation.
Starting in April, at his order, the court system will no longer include misdemeanors on the records of people it sells to background screening agencies, if the individuals involved have no other criminal convictions and have not been arrested for 10 years [and with certain exceptions]. . .
As I have said before, this is leadership.
Disclosure: I am on the Task Force that proposed the Navigator Pilot.