When we started the Legal Rebels franchise in 2009, our original objective was to highlight individuals and groups thinking outside the box and transforming the practice of law, often through technology.
Turns out, nothing has been more transformative than the COVID-19 pandemic. In the year or so that we’ve been dealing with this disease, we’ve seen drastic changes within the legal industry—but perhaps nowhere has this been more apparent than in the courts. Some innovative judges have been pushing for greater tech adoption in courtrooms for years. The pandemic has provided courts with the opportunity to speed up the process and allow them to better serve the public without putting people at risk by forcing them to appear in person.
That’s not to say the legal industry wasn’t already under-going massive changes before COVID-19 hit. Task forces in several states have been exploring ways to increase access to justice for low-income Americans. The past year saw two states grab what had long been the third rail of the legal profession and reform ethics regulations to remove prohibitions on alternative business structures, including nonlawyer ownership of law firms.
For this year’s class of Legal Rebels, the ABA Journal and the ABA Center for Innovation have chosen to highlight judges, lawyers and legal professionals who have helped bring about changes to the judicial system. Through their work, they’ve established the blueprint for courts to better serve the general public—with or without a pandemic.