ABA passes access to justice measure after opposition fades — from news.bloomberglaw.com by Sam Skolnik

  • New York State Bar Association president lauds “powerfully important moment”
  • Vote followed several days of sometimes tense negotiations

Excerpt:

The American Bar Association passed a resolution encouraging state bars to explore innovative approaches to access to justice by voice vote on Monday, after several days of behind-the-scenes negotiations during which its passage seemed unclear.

Proponents of Resolution 115 prevailed in the House of Delegates vote during the ABA midyear meeting in Austin, Texas, in part because they were willing to adjust the proposal’s language to make it more palatable to detractors who had been concerned about its possible impact on legal industry independence. The House of Delegates is the policy-making arm of the ABA, composed of nearly 600 members, two-thirds of whom represent state, local, and specialty-focused bar groups.

Also see:

 

Online tool will help ‘Spot’ legal issues that people face — from .pewtrusts.org
Artificial intelligence can boost non-lawyers’ ability to navigate civil court system

Excerpt:

People looking for information on legal questions often start their searches online, without a good handle on the terminology. Today’s machine learning tools can help put nonlegal phrasing into context, using artificial intelligence to match people’s situations with specific legal issues, supplying accurate information and connections to potential services.

A team at the Legal Innovation and Technology (LIT) Lab at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, with funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts, is building an application programming interface, or API—known as Spot—that can serve as a computerized issue spotter. Spot could be used by legal services websites and others to help lay users, and its functionality will improve as it accumulates more data and real-life examples.

 

American Bar Assn. President criticizes U.S. legal system as backward, resistant to change — from forbes.com by Patricia Barnes

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Judy Perry Martinez, president of the American Bar Association (ABA), has issued an unusually frank plea calling upon the legal profession to support reform of America’s backward legal system to better serve the public.

“We need new ideas,” said Martinez. “We are one-fifth into the 21st century, yet we continue to rely on 20th-century processes, procedures and regulations. We need to retain 20th-century values but advance them using 21st-century approaches that can increase access to justice.”

Martinez’ comments are contained in a letter appearing in the February-March 2020 issue of the ABA’s monthly magazine, The ABA Journal.

Martinez expressed frustration with resistance in the legal profession to state-level efforts to innovate in the provision of legal services.

Martinez was particularly critical of the lack of access to civil justice in the United States. She cited the World Justice Project’s ranking of the U.S. in the bottom tier with respect to access to and affordability of civil justice. She said the U.S. is tied for 99th place out of 126 countries. Additionally, Martinez said research by the Legal Services Corp. found that low-income Americans received inadequate or no professional legal help for 86% of their civil legal problems, including child custody, debt collection, eviction and foreclosure. She did not spare the criminal justice system. In many states, Martinez says, “overwhelming caseloads and inadequate resources for public defenders severely hamper the Sixth Amendment right to counsel for indigent criminal defendants.

 

From DSC:
I congratulate Judy Perry Martinez for her stance here, as she’s ultimately fighting for our society — especially for access to justice. Though I don’t know Judy, I appreciate the courage that it must have taken to pen that letter.

 

Lawyers: Meet the CEO trying to make you obsolete — from abovethelaw.com by James Goodnow
Call it a drive for increased access to the legal system, call it a grab for cash, the legal and business worlds are getting more comfortable with nonlawyers handling issues traditionally reserved for attorneys.

Excerpt:

Mehta and Factor aim to take a bite out of the segment of the legal market that has previously been off-limits to anyone except Biglaw attorneys: challenging, sophisticated contract negotiations and compliance.

Factor’s secret sauce is combining attorneys, nonattorney legal professionals, and curated technology into an efficient package. Factor’s team of hundreds of in-house lawyers oversee nonattorneys specially trained in contract management, compliance issues, and leading-edge technology. The goal, of course, is to bring the cost of even highly complex transactions down to a minimum.

Make no mistake: a new front has opened up in the war between alternative legal service providers and traditional law firms. 


From DSC:

While I don’t think lawyers will become obsolete, the amount of technology being integrated into law firms and throughout the legal realm is definitely on the increase. I don’t see that trend slowing down, but rather picking up steam.

 

From DSC:
As some of you may know, I’m now working for the WMU-Thomas M. Cooley Law School. My faith gets involved here, but I believe that the LORD wanted me to get involved with:

  • Using technology to increase access to justice (#A2J)
  • Contributing to leveraging the science of learning for the long-term benefit of our students, faculty, and staff
  • Raising awareness regarding the potential pros and cons of today’s emerging technologies
  • Increase the understanding that the legal realm has a looooong way to go to try to get (even somewhat) caught up with the impacts that such emerging technologies can/might have on us.
  • Contributing and collaborating with others to help develop a positive future, not a negative one.

Along these lines…in regards to what’s been happening with law schools over the last few years, I wanted to share a couple of things:

1) An article from The Chronicle of Higher Education by Benjamin Barton:

The Law School Crash

 

2) A response from our President and Dean, James McGrath:Repositioning a Law School for the New Normal

 

From DSC:
I also wanted to personally say that I arrived at WMU-Cooley Law School in 2018, and have been learning a lot there (which I love about my job!).  Cooley employees are very warm, welcoming, experienced, knowledgeable, and professional. Everyone there is mission-driven. My boss, Chris Church, is multi-talented and excellent. Cooley has a great administrative/management team as well.

There have been many exciting, new things happening there. But that said, it will take time before we see the results of these changes. Perseverance and innovation will be key ingredients to crafting a modern legal education — especially in an industry that is just now beginning to offer online-based courses at the Juris Doctor (J.D.) level (i.e., 20 years behind when this began occurring within undergraduate higher education).

My point in posting this is to say that we should ALL care about what’s happening within the legal realm!  We are all impacted by it, whether we realize it or not. We are all in this together and no one is an island — not as individuals, and not as organizations.

We need:

  • Far more diversity within the legal field
  • More technical expertise within the legal realm — not only with lawyers, but with legislators, senators, representatives, judges, others
  • Greater use of teams of specialists within the legal field
  • To offer more courses regarding emerging technologies — and not only for the legal practices themselves but also for society at large.
  • To be far more vigilant in crafting a positive world to be handed down to our kids and grandkids — a dream, not a nightmare. Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

Still not convinced that you should care? Here are some things on the CURRENT landscapes:

  • You go to drop something off at your neighbor’s house. They have a camera that gets activated.  What facial recognition database are you now on? Did you give your consent to that? No, you didn’t.
  • Because you posted your photo on Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and/or on millions of other websites, your face could be in ClearView AI’s database. Did you give your consent to that occurring? No, you didn’t.
  • You’re at the airport and facial recognition is used instead of a passport. Whose database was that from and what gets shared? Did you give your consent to that occurring? Probably not, and it’s not easy to opt-out either.
  • Numerous types of drones, delivery bots, and more are already coming onto the scene. What will the sidewalks, streets, and skies look like — and sound like — in your neighborhood in the near future? Is that how you want it? Did you give your consent to that happening? No, you didn’t.
  • …and on and on it goes.

Addendum — speaking of islands!

Palantir CEO: Silicon Valley can’t be on ‘Palo Alto island’ — Big Tech must play by the rules — from cnbc.com by Jessica Bursztynsky

Excerpt:

Palantir Technologies co-founder and CEO Alex Karp said Thursday the core problem in Silicon Valley is the attitude among tech executives that they want to be separate from United States regulation.

“You cannot create an island called Palo Alto Island,” said Karp, who suggested tech leaders would rather govern themselves. “What Silicon Valley really wants is the canton of Palo Alto. We have the United States of America, not the ‘United States of Canton,’ one of which is Palo Alto. That must change.”

“Consumer tech companies, not Apple, but the other ones, have basically decided we’re living on an island and the island is so far removed from what’s called the United States in every way, culturally, linguistically and in normative ways,” Karp added.

 

Juris announces launch of AI powered software to help people solve their own legal problems — from finance.yahoo.com

Excerpt:

Legal technology company Juris has announced the launch of their service, DepositLetter, an online tool built to recover illegally withheld security deposits on behalf of renters. Customers complete a five-minute online interview and Juris does the rest automatically to show their former landlord that they know their rights under the law, to demand their money back, and even threaten to sue. DepositLetter is the first service built on the Juris Virtual Legal Assistant platform, a law-powered A.I. expert system made to help people solve their own legal problems.

Also see:

Millennial lawyers demand mobility. Are law firms ready to provide it? from law.com by Alex Babin
Like it or not, remote work is coming to the legal world. Even among law firms, the development of policies to accommodate work performed away from the office appears to be a notable trend.

Excerpt:

Like it or not, remote work is coming to the legal world. Even among law firms, where I am repeatedly reminded that the adoption of technology tends to lag behind other workplaces and industries, the development of policies to accommodate work performed away from the office appears to be a notable trend. In part, this is being driven by increasing numbers of millennials in the legal workforce. According to a 2019 Deloitte survey, nearly 75% of millennials think a “work-from-home” or “work remotely” policy is important. But the changing perspective is also very likely a function of a broader transition in the legal industry toward technology-enabled efficiency.

 

The Future of Lawyers: Legal Tech, AI, Big Data And Online Courts — from forbes.com by Bernard Marr

Excerpts:

In his brand new book Online Courts and the Future of Justice, Richard argues that technology is going to bring about a fascinating decade of change in the legal sector and transform our court system. Although automating our old ways of working plays a part in this, even more, critical is that artificial intelligence and technology will help give more individuals access to justice.

The first generation is the idea that people who use the court system submit evidence and arguments to the judge online or through some form of electronic communication.

The second generation of using technology to transform the legal system would be what Richard calls “outcome thinking” to use technology to help solve disputes without requiring lawyers or the traditional court system.

Some of the biggest obstacles to an online court system are the political will to bring about such a transformation, the support of judges and lawyers, funding, as well as the method we’d apply. For example, decisions will need to be made whether the online system would be used for only certain cases or situations.

Ultimately, we have a grave access-to-justice problem. Technology can help improve our outcomes and give people a way to resolve public disputes in ways that previously weren’t possible. While this transformation might not solve all the struggles with the legal system or the access-to-justice issue, it can offer a dramatic improvement.

 

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