October 03, 2017

New online tool helps direct potential victims of hate crimes to appropriate resources

The American Bar Association Center for Innovation has joined with legal technology company CuroLegal to launch a new online tool, Hate Crime Help, which provides resources for hate crime victims. 

The easy-to-navigate online tool asks users a series of questions and directs people to organizations that can provide insights into whether a crime has been committed against them and what they can do about it. The information tool is national in scope and — using zip codes — localizes some resource recommendations. The tool covers potential crimes related to ethnicity, religion, skin color, gender identification, sexual orientation and other protected classes.

The online tool at www.hatecrimehelp.com also will help potential victims of hate crimes know their rights, find relevant resources and determine the elements of a hate crime, which must be an actual crime before it can be defined as a hate crime and often carries enhanced penalties.

Andrew Perlman, chair of the ABA Center for Innovation Governing Council and dean of Suffolk University Law School in Boston, noted that developing a tool of this sort is difficult because states vary significantly in terms of their approach to hate crimes and the resources that are available to people who have been the victims of hate crimes or bias incidents.

“The site is another example of how technology can help people gain access to law-related information that they need,” Perlman said. “The ABA Center for Innovation is thrilled to have been part of this effort, and I’m delighted that CuroLegal approached us about collaborating on it and that Cisco was willing to support it financially.”

CuroLegal reached out to the ABA Center for Innovation about developing a tool of this sort and then designed and developed it in collaboration with the center. CuroLegal’s Nicole Bradick was the originator of the idea and led the tool’s design and development; CuroLegal’s CEO Chad Burton is a member of the center’s council. Center council member Mark Chandler arranged for financial support from global technology leader Cisco.

The work on the online tool was aided by an all-day session last March led by Margaret Hagan, who is the director of the Legal Design Lab, a lecturer at Stanford (University) Institute of Design and a member of the center’s council. The session at Suffolk University Law School challenged a group of lawyers, designers and subject matter experts to develop ideas for assisting victims of hate crimes and bias incidents. They were joined by members of communities of color, LGBTQ advocates and representatives from various religious groups.

Since its release in September, The Washington Post, among other media sources, has written about the online tool.

The ABA Center of Innovation was established in August 2016 to drive innovation in the delivery of legal services by developing impactful projects and initiatives and operating a program of innovative fellowships to work with other professionals, such as technologists, entrepreneurs and design professionals, to create models that improve the justice system. This past summer, eight inaugural fellows were appointed with projects covering topics related to tenants’ rights, exonerations and international human rights, among others.