Civil Justice Research
The American Bar Association Center for Innovation and The Pew Charitable Trusts are gathering multidisciplinary teams together to observe our civil legal justice system in action and brainstorm what it needs to look like in the 21st century and beyond. Read about our first event here.
Working with Stanford Law School, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS), LSU Law School, and Louisiana Appleseed, the Center created a mobile app to help Louisiana flood victims gather information and documents needed to establish home ownership and complete disaster relief applications. The Center later 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.
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, Chicago-Kent School of Law, and Tulane University School of Law, and in consultation with Harvard’s Access to Justice Lab, and the National Center for State Courts—is developing a Miranda app for use by police officers to inform people 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 has created several prototypes and is now working with police and community stakeholders including prosecutors, defense counsel, and adults of all ages with limited English proficiency to test these prototypes.
Hate Crime Help
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 developed a portal to help people determine if they have been a victim of a hate crime and learn more about state-specific hate crime statutes. The Center held a design event at Suffolk Law School on March 20, 2017, to jumpstart development. The tool, Hate Crime Help, assists victims of harassment, violence, and property damage, resulting from acts based on religion, race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation. In its coverage of the tool, the Washington Post noted that “reporting a hate crime is notoriously hard,” and hatecrimehelp.com is designed to facilitate reporting and help people find relevant resources.
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.
NextGen Fellows are recent—within the last five years—law school graduates, who spend one year in residence at ABA Headquarters to develop an innovative tool, product, or program that will improve access to and delivery of legal services in America. NextGen Fellows receive salary, benefits, space, and training. Bar admission is not required. Current Fellows are working on a wide range of projects, including cybersecurity tools for marginalized populations, software to aid persons facing eviction, and an app to help self-represented litigants.
Innovation Fellows are midcareer attorneys or other experts, who spend 9 to 12 weeks at ABA Headquarters to develop an innovative tool, product, or program that will improve access to and delivery of legal services in America. Innovation Fellows do not receive a salary, stipend, or benefits, but are given time, space, and training. Current Fellows are working on a wide range of projects, including collaborative software for innocence projects, electronic matching programs for scholars and advocates, and even building a state-specific innovation center.
Online Dispute Resolution in the United States
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) is the use of technology to settle disputes between parties. ODR was initially used in commercial settings, such as disagreements between buyers and sellers on websites like eBay. In recent years, however, it has been adopted by courts to assist in processing cases. The ABA Center for Innovation received a grant to survey the extent of Court-Annexed Online Dispute Resolution in the United States as it existed as of the end of 2019. Data visualizations and information can be found in the report linked below.