The ABA Center for Innovation’s mission is to encourage and accelerate innovations that improve the accessibility, effectiveness, and efficiency of legal services in the United States. During its second quarter of operations, the Center advanced this mission in significant ways. The Center has developed numerous collaborative relationships and obtained pledges and commitments of over $600,000.
- Microsoft has agreed to sponsor a NextGen Fellow.
- Three law schools—American University Washington College of Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, and Suffolk University Law School—have agreed to sponsor NextGen Fellows.
- North Carolina—in a collaboration between the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, the North Carolina Supreme Court, and the North Carolina Bar Association—has agreed to sponsor an Innovation Fellow.
- Cisco Systems pledged $25,000 to support the Center’s Hate Crimes Reporting App initiative.
- The ABA Criminal Justice Section pledged $300,000 to the Center to support criminal justice innovation projects ($100,000 per year for three years).
The Center has undertaken numerous innovative programs and projects, including:
- Working with organizations to develop rapid responses to the public’s legal needs, such as in the areas of immigration law and applications for FEMA assistance
- Leading an effort to create a hate crimes reporting app Collaborating on several court-annexed online dispute resolution pilot projects
- Collaborating with the ABA Legal Services Division on a legal checkups tool
- Developing an Innovation Clearinghouse to help the profession and public learn more about legal services innovations
- Developing a Miranda translation app that will give law enforcement and the public easy access to Miranda warnings in other languages
- Working with ABA Member Services to develop ABAStands4, a site that demonstrates the ABA’s commitment to improving access to legal services and the rule of law in the United States and around the globe
- Mapping public defense resources with the Legal Services Division
- Developing a cutting-edge online program in the area of legal services innovation
- Developing a process for submitting project requests so that it can more easily review and assess the many requests for assistance the Center is receiving
The Center selected the inaugural class of NextGen and Innovation Fellows.
- NextGen Fellows are recent law school graduates who—with the exception of the ABA Center for Innovation-Microsoft NextGen Fellow—will spend a year in residence at ABA Headquarters working on an innovative legal services project of their choice. They will each receive a salary and benefits, as well as intensive training and support from Center members and staff.
- Innovation Fellows are experienced lawyers and other professionals, who will spend approximately nine to twelve weeks in residence at the Center, receiving intensive training and support from Center members and staff.
The Center is participating in and organizing conversations around the country in the area of legal innovation.
- The Center has participated in dozens of conferences and programs since it was established in September 2016.
- The Center has published several articles about its work and is regularly cited in the press for its efforts.
Programs and Projects
Guided by its Programs & Projects Committee, the ABA Center for Innovation has made great strides in encouraging and accelerating legal services innovations. A few of the Center’s recent programs and projects are described here.
Within days of a recent executive order regarding immigration that detained scores of immigrants at airports, the ABA Center for Innovation worked with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the ABA Law Practice Division to launch www.immigrationjustice.us, a site that supports pro bono attorneys seeking to engage in immigration law. The site provides necessary resources for organizing pro bono attorneys nationwide. The Center also prepared a toolkit for quickly developing rapid response websites. This project demonstrated that bar associations can work together with agility and common purpose, particularly when aided by innovation.
B. FloodProof App
Last year, floods ravaged the areas in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Yet flood victims often lack the documentation of home ownership that is required to establish eligibility for FEMA disaster assistance. Working with Stanford Law School, LSU Law School, and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, the Center developed FloodProof, a mobile app to help flood victims gather documents needed to establish home ownership and complete FEMA submissions. The app also alerts them to appropriate legal services in the region based on income qualifications.
C. Hate Crimes Reporting App
A recent spate of hate crimes across the United States has spurred the ABA Center for Innovation to take action. With generous support from Cisco Systems, and in collaboration with Suffolk Law School, CuroLegal, and Stanford Law School, the Center is developing an app that will help people determine if they have been a victim of a hate crime and learn more about their state’s hate crime statutes. It will also automate fact-gathering for hate crime reporting and demystify the reporting process. The Center is holding a design event at Suffolk Law School on March 20, 2017, to jumpstart development.
D. Online Dispute Resolution
The Center continues to assist the New York State Unified Court System with a court-annexed online dispute resolution pilot project that will seek to resolve consumer debt cases more efficiently and effectively. The ABA Judicial Division and ABA Section of Dispute Resolution are leading this effort, and the work is supported by an ABA Enterprise Fund award. The Center has held several meetings to explore additional ODR opportunities, including a potential project that ABA President-Elect Hilarie Bass is examining.
E. Legal Checkups
The Center continues to assist the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services with a free, online legal checkup tool. The checkup will consist of an expert system of branching questions and answers that helps members of the public to identify legal issues in specific subject areas and refers them to appropriate resources.
F. Innovation Clearinghouse
The Center is developing a comprehensive Innovation Clearinghouse to catalog ongoing legal services innovations around the world so that we can better understand existing projects, avoid duplicating efforts, and inform the Center’s decisions regarding new initiatives.
G. Miranda Translation App
Working with the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities, the ABA Criminal Justice Section, and Tulane University School of Law, the Center is in the early stages of conceptualizing a Miranda app for use by police offers to inform persons—especially those for whom English is not the primary language—of their rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 344 U.S. 436 (1966).
Center staff is currently working with ABA Member Services to develop ABAstands4, a site that demonstrates the ABA’s commitment to improving access to legal services and the rule of law in the United States and around the globe.
I. Mapping Public Defense
The ABA Center for Innovation is partnering with the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defendants (SCLAID) to create a nationwide map of public defense provision in the United States. The team has already collected data regarding the delivery of public defense services in approximately 75% of the 3,144 counties in the United States. Data include the type of public defense provided, contact information for the public defense system in each county, and basic information regarding the number of public defense providers. A beta version of the map has been developed, and additional data is now being entered into the database.
J. Request for Projects
The Center has developed a prioritized list of areas of focus. This list will be the basis of a nationwide Request for Projects. Selected projects will receive technical support, collaborative resources and, in some cases, small monetary grants to assist in the development and implementation of worthwhile endeavors that advance the Center’s mission. The Center has drafted and is now refining the Request. To complement this effort, the Center is drafting an intake form to determine which projects to undertake.
Following a rigorous selection process that included the review of nearly 50 applications, the Fellows Committee has selected the inaugural class of NextGen and Innovation Fellows. The ABA Center for Innovation will soon announce the names of the selected Fellows.
NextGen Fellows are recent law school graduates who—with the exception of the ABA Center for Innovation-Microsoft NextGen Fellow—will spend a year in residence at ABA headquarters working on an innovative legal services project. They will each receive a salary and benefits, as well as intensive training and support from Center members and staff. The ABA Center for Innovation-Microsoft NextGen Fellow will spend a year in residence at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
Innovation Fellows are experienced lawyers and other professionals, who will spend approximately nine to twelve weeks in residence at the Center, receiving intensive training and support from Center members and staff.
In total, the Center will welcome up to six NextGen and three Innovation Fellows to its inaugural class. All Fellows will enroll in a rigorous ABA Center for Innovation boot camp that covers the state of legal services in America, design thinking, approaches to innovation, philanthropy, and communication. The Center is currently developing the boot camp with help from Stanford Law School and the Illinois Institute of Technology Design School, among other collaborators.
Educational Programming, Publications and Press
The Center is engaging in substantial outreach within and outside the ABA. This includes educational programming, as well as publication and media coverage.
A. Educational Programming
At the 2017 ABA Midyear Meeting in Miami, the ABA Center for Innovation hosted Legal Innovations 101. Moderated by Ramon Abadin and featuring Judy Perry Martinez, Jordan Furlong, Margaret Hagan, and Chad Burton, the stimulating panel covered the shifting law firm landscape, the innovative process, design thinking, and recent approaches to law practice management. Highlights of the panel can be found here.
ABA Center for Innovation members and staff were invited to speak about the Center’s efforts at several events over the course of the second quarter, including:
|Date||Program or Event||Role||Location||Speaker|
|January 26, 2017||Do, Make, Say, Think – Chicago Legal Innovation and Technology Meetup||Speaker||Chicago, IL||Geoffrey Burkhart|
|February 3, 2017||Technology—Artificial Intelligence and Evolving Technology: Do you Know Whether your Professional Responsibility Has Changed? – National Conference of Bar Presidents||Panelist||Miami, FL||Andrew Perlman|
|February 3, 2017||The Future is Now: Alternative Legal Services & Regulatory Barriers to Innovation – Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers Meeting||Panelist||Miami, FL||Andrew Perlman|
B. Publication and Media Coverage
The ABA Center for Innovation frequently publishes on legal services innovation, and the Center’s work has been the subject of several reports in the press.
The ABA Center for Innovation Drives Originality and Access by Janet Jackson and Andrew Perlman
Predicting the Future of Legal Services by Andrew Perlman
Legal Education in the 21st Century by Andrew Perlman