Report of the Summit on the Use of Technology to Expand Access to Justice

Published by: Legal Services Corporation (LSC) published in December 2013

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In June 2012, LSC hosted the first session of the Summit with 50 participants. This group was asked to explore a technology vision for expanding access to justice without regard to cost or practicality. In preparation for this first session, the planning group commissioned a series of white papers, six of which are available in the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology and five more are available online.

The participants in the first session identified 50 distinct technology activities that could be useful in improving access to justice. The group attending the second session of the Summit in January 2013 was asked to develop a concrete plan for moving forward using the ideas developed in the first session.

The second session focused on the top six activities identified in this process: (1) Document assembly for self-represented litigants; (2) better “triage”—that is, identification of the most appropriate form of service for clients in light of the totality of their circumstances; (3) mobile technologies; (4) remote service delivery; (5) expert systems and checklists; and (6) unbundled services.

The 51 attendees at the second session included 24 from the first session and 27 new participants. The report developed a vision for an integrated service-delivery system: “Technology can and must play a vital role in transforming service delivery so that all poor people in the United States with an essential civil legal need obtain some form of effective assistance.”

The next steps:

  1. Creating in each state a unified “legal portal” which, by an automated triage process, directs persons needing legal assistance to the most appropriate form of assistance and guides self-represented litigants through the entire legal process.
  2. Deploying sophisticated document assembly applications to support the creation of legal documents by service providers and by litigants themselves and linking the document creation process to the delivery of legal information and limited scope legal representation.
  3. Taking advantage of mobile technologies to reach more persons more effectively Applying business process/analysis to all access-to-justice activities to make them as efficient as practicable Developing “expert systems” to assist lawyers and other services providers.
  4. Next steps include: (1) create a steering committee to provide leadership for achieving the integrated system; (2) develop an ongoing outreach process; (3) develop a funding strategy; (4) develop a replication strategy; and (5) develop a communication process.

Categories: Policymakers and Funders, Technology, National, General/Unspecified Clients, Self-Represented Litigants

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