Over the last three months, the ABA Center for Innovation has continued to advance its mission of encouraging and accelerating innovations that improve the accessibility, effectiveness, and efficiency of legal services in the United States. In the last quarter alone, the Center’s programs and projects have included:
- Creating a web-based tool to help Louisiana flood victims obtain disaster aid;
- Designing a web app to disseminate state-based information about hate crimes and bias incidents;
- Developing a social entrepreneurship initiative to pair legal industry innovators with legal services organizations; and
- Designing a tool that enables police to translate Miranda warnings into Spanish and other languages.
The Center also selected its inaugural cohort of Fellows, who will arrive in August 2017 with fresh ideas about how to innovate the delivery of legal services. Numerous other initiatives are described in this report, and many others are in development.
As we complete our first nine months of operation, we remain grateful for the support of the American Bar Association and our growing network of sponsors and collaborators, both inside and outside of the profession.
Following a rigorous selection process that included a review of over 60 applications, the Center’s Fellows Committee has 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. 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 most of the year in residence at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
Innovation Fellows are experienced lawyers and other professionals, who will spend three to four months in residence at the Center and receive intensive training and support from Center members and staff to facilitate an impactful project.
The Center has created a rigorous boot camp that will assist the Fellows in the development of people, process, and tech skills that are necessary to innovate in the legal sector.
Programs and Projects
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, SBA, and state recovery disaster assistance. A multifaceted campaign called “FloodProof” emerged last year to address these needs, and the Center stepped up to play an important role.
Working with Stanford Law School, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS), LSU Law School, and Louisiana Appleseed, the Center worked to create a mobile app to help Louisiana flood victims gather information and documents needed to establish home ownership and complete disaster relief applications. During its third quarter, the Center developed a web-based version of FloodProof and explored efforts, in cooperation with the ABA Standing Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness and Louisiana Appleseed, to drive greater awareness and use of these new technology resources. Through a collaborative effort with SLLS, LSU Law School, Southern University Law School, Baton Rouge Bar Association, Louisiana Appleseed, and local and state government, flood victims are being introduced to both the mobile app and web platform to assist in recovery. The overall FloodProof project, including the mobile app design, was made possible by funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.
B. Responding to Hate Crimes
A recent spate of hate crimes across the United States spurred the Center to take action. With generous support from Cisco Systems, and in collaboration with CuroLegal, Suffolk Law School, and Stanford Law School, the Center is developing a portal that will help people determine if they have been a victim of a hate crime and learn more about state-specific hate crime statutes. The portal also will automate fact-gathering for hate crime reporting and demystify the reporting process. The Center held a design event at Suffolk Law School on March 20, 2017, to jumpstart development.
C. Social Entrepreneurship
Center members and staff are in the early stages of developing a social entrepreneurship project, in which legal tech and other companies focus on sharing their technology to legal aid organizations at a discounted rate or pro bono.
D. Online Legal Tech Course
The Center seeks to expand the knowledge and skills necessary to broaden innovation in the legal industry. To that end, the Center is collaborating with the MIT Media Lab to develop an online course designed for leaders of law firms and in-house legal departments. The course will run six to eight weeks and cover document automation, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, data science, and other topics that are essential to developing innovative approaches to the delivery of legal services. If you are interested in learning more about this course, please contact Geoff Burkhart.
E. Online Dispute Resolution
The Center is assisting 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 Section of Dispute Resolution is leading this effort, and the work is supported by an award from the ABA Enterprise Fund. The Center has held several meetings to explore additional court-annexed ODR opportunities in other jurisdictions.
F. Legal Check-ups
The Center continues to assist the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services in its development of 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 identify legal issues in specific subject areas and find appropriate resources. The project is funded by an award from the ABA Enterprise Fund.
G. Innovation Clearinghouse
The Center is developing a comprehensive Innovation Clearinghouse to catalog ongoing legal services innovations in the United States so that we can better understand existing projects, avoid duplicating efforts, and inform the Center’s decisions regarding new initiatives. In addition to conducting its own research, the Center has asked the public for help with identifying innovative projects and innovations.
H. Miranda Tool
The ABA Center for Innovation—working with the ABA Criminal Justice Section, the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities, the Illinois Institute of Technology Institute of Design, and Tulane University School of Law, and in consultation with Harvard’s Access to Justice Lab, the National Center for State Courts, and local police—is developing a Miranda app for use by police officers to inform persons with limited English proficiency of their constitutional rights. A Center-led team of design students, computer science students, a law student, and an IIT professor are working to develop a prototype.
Center staff and volunteers worked with ABA Member Services to launch ABA stands4, a website and social media campaign 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. ABA stands4 is shining a light on public service works undertaken by numerous ABA entities, including the Center.
J. 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 services in the United States. SCLAID has already collected data in approximately 70% of the 3,144 counties, including the type of public defense provided, contact information for the public defense system, and the number of public defense providers in each system. A beta version of the map has been launched, and the Center is planning the next iteration.
K. Requests for Projects
The Center has developed a prioritized list of focus areas. This list is 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 preparing an intake form to determine which new projects to undertake.
Presentations, Publications and Media Coverage
- William Hubbard, Address to the South Carolina Circuit Judges Conference, March 8, 2017.
- Andrew Perlman, Howard Lichtenstein Distinguished Legal Ethics Lecture, The Future of the Legal Profession: Innovation, Technology, and Regulation, Hofstra Law, Hempstead, NY, March 9, 2017.
- Judy Perry Martinez, SXSW Panel: Affordable and Accessible Lawyers, Really?, Austin, Texas, March 14, 2017.
- Judy Perry Martinez, ABA Tech Show, Keynote Plenary: Obstacles and Opportunities – Straight Talk with the CEOs of Avvo, LegalZoom, and RocketLawyer, Chicago, Illinois, March 17, 2017.
- Judy Perry Martinez, Judge: Tech for Justice Hackathon, ABA TECHSHOW 2017, Chicago, Illinois, March 17, 2017.
- Sarah Glassmeyer, Plenary: The Future Is Now: Creating Opportunities for Your Firm in a Changing Marketplace, Chicago, Illinois, March 18, 2017.
- Judy Perry Martinez, Plenary: The Future Is Now: Creating Opportunities for Your Firm in a Changing Marketplace, Chicago, Illinois, March 18, 2017.
- Judy Perry Martinez, Stanford CodeX Conference, Palo Alto, California, April 6, 2017.
- Judy Perry Martinez, Cleveland Bar Association, Ethics Committee Breakfast, Cleveland, Ohio, April 21, 2017.
- Judy Perry Martinez, University of Akron School of Law, Miller-Becker Center for Professional Responsibility, Distinguished Lecture, Akron, Ohio, April, 21, 2017.
- Judy Perry Martinez, Presentation on the Future of Legal Services, LSC Board of Directors Meeting, Washington, D.C., April 25, 2017.
- Andrew Perlman, Presenter, An Update on the ABA Center for Innovation, Legal Services Corporation Board Meeting, Washington, D.C., April 25, 2017.
- Andrew Perlman, Panelist, CLOC’s Magna Carta for the Corporate Legal Services Industry, Corporate Legal Operations Consortium Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, NV, May 10, 2017.
- Geoffrey T. Burkhart, Address to the Illinois Advanced Judicial Academy, Springfield, Illinois, June 6, 2017.
- Geoffrey T. Burkhart, Address to the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Baltimore, Maryland, June 7, 2017.
- Judy Perry Martinez, Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative Conference, Panel on Marketing and Fundraising, Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 9, 2017.
- Andrew Perlman, Panelist, Artificial Intelligence and the Practice of Law, Rhode Island Bar Association Annual Meeting, Providence, RI, June 15, 2017.
- Judy Perry Martinez, Kentucky Bar Association Annual Meeting: Get Ready for Here They Come: Your Opportunities to Shape the Future of Legal Services, Owensboro, Kentucky, June 22, 2017.
- Geoffrey T. Burkhart, How to Leverage Public Defense Workload Studies, 14 Ohio St. J. Crim. L. 403 (2017). (http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/students/groups/osjcl/issues-and-articles/issue-14-2/)
- Chad Burton, LP Plus the Center: New Best Friends?, 43 Law Practice 12 (May/June 2017). (http://www.mazdigital.com/webreader/49127?page=14)
- Janet Jackson & Andrew Perlman, The ABA Center for Innovation Drives Originality and Access, 43 Law Practice 46 (2017).
- Andrew M. Perlman, Reflections on the Future of Legal Services, Suffolk U. Law School Research Paper, May 10, 2017. (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2965592)
- Judy Perry Martinez and Geoffrey Thomas Burkhart, Report on the Future of Legal Services in the United States: 12 Recommendations for Improving the Delivery of Legal Services to the American Public, 86 Bar Exam. 17 (June 2017). (http://www.ncbex.org/pdfviewer/?file=%2Fassets%2Fmedia_files%2FBar-Examiner%2Farticles%2F2017%2F860217-BE-Martinez-Burkhart.pdf)
Media coverage of the Center
- Aebra Coe, Legal Tech Download: Venture Capital And Higher Education, Law 360, March 27, 2017.
- Mark Chandler, Cisco Supports Tech Effort to Help Hate Crime Victims, blog, Cisco Systems, March 28, 2017.
- Kay Lazar, Need to report a hate crime? There may be an app for that, Boston Globe, March 11, 2017.
- Victor Li, ABA Center for Innovation will hold design event to create app for hate crime victims, ABA Journal, March 3, 2017.
- Victor Li, Chatbot to help victims of military sex trauma wins Tech for Justice hackathon event, ABA Journal, March 18, 2017.
- L. Rawles, Meet 10 women making an impact in legal tech., ABA Journal, April 25, 2017.
- Ariana Trigg, Flood Proof: Free legal help for homeowners with title problems launches iPhone app, BRProud.com, March 10, 2017
- Judy Perry Martinez, Legal Talk Network, ABA TECHSHOW 2017.
- New app helps flooded homeowners with title problems, The Drum, March 31, 2017
Just Debt? Reimagining fines & Fees in America
Countless jurisdictions employ fines and fees in both criminal and civil cases. The damaging effects of fines and fees for low-income persons are widely known and include job loss, eviction, license suspensions, and even imprisonment. This program will explore opportunities for innovation in this area. The event is cosponsored by the ABA Center for Innovation and the National Conference of Bar Presidents and will feature CNN commentator Van Jones, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, and American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Jeff Robinson.
Spotlight on Innovation
Ten speakers will deliver crisp, high-level TED-style talks regarding legal innovation in America. Topics include artificial intelligence, legal education, bail funds, online dispute resolution, electronic expungement tools, civil legal aid, and criminal justice reentry. This fast-paced event will conclude with a short speaker meet-and-greet.
How You Can Help
The ABA Center for Innovation is continuously collaborating with individuals, organizations, and foundations. If you have project ideas, resources, or subject matter expertise and would like to collaborate with the ABA Center for Innovation, we encourage you to reach out to Center staff:
Janet Jackson, Director
Geoff Burkhart, Deputy Director
Sarah Glassmeyer, Project Specialist Manager
Lanita Thomas, Office Manager
ABA Center for Innovation
American Bar Association
321 North Clark Street
Chicago, Illinois 60654
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