The Justice Gap: The Unmet Civil Legal Needs of Low-income Americans — from the Legal Services Corporation

Legal Services Corporation’s 2022 Justice Gap Report provides a comprehensive look at the differences between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs. LSC’s study found that low-income Americans do not get the help they need for 92% of their civil legal problems, even though 74% of low-income households face at least one civil legal issue in a single year.

The consequences that result from a lack of appropriate counsel can be life-altering – low-income Americans facing civil legal problems can lose their homes, children and healthcare, among other things. Help can be hard to access, so LSC is working to bridge this “justice gap” by providing pro bono civil legal aid for those in need. Find out more about LSC’s work to ensure equal justice for all by tuning in to the rest of the Justice Gap video series.

For more information on the Justice Gap, visit https://justicegap.lsc.gov/.

Also relevant/see:

.

Legal Services Corporation’s 2022 Justice Gap Report provides a comprehensive look at the differences between the civil legal needs of low-income Americans and the resources available to meet those needs.

 

2022 Winners of the LegalTech Breakthrough Awards — from legaltechbreakthrough.com

Categories include:

  • Case Management
  • Client Relations
  • Data & Analytics
  • Documentation
  • Legal Education
  • Practice Management
  • Legal Entity Management
  • Legal Research
  • Online Dispute Resolution
  • Contract Management
  • eDiscovery
  • Marketplaces
  • RegTech
  • Leadership

Also see:

With the cost of international air travel rising sharply, remote hearings are a practical alternative to in-person proceedings. International travel is expensive, and the virtual option means that it is no longer necessary to count travel as a “cost of doing business” when pursuing an international dispute. The widespread use of technology in global dispute resolution proceedings gives attorneys and their clients the option to participate remotely, which is a compelling cost saver for all parties. 

  • Most debt lawsuits get decided without a fight. Michigan leaders want to change the rules. — from mlive.com by Matthew Miller
    Excerpt:
    Most of the 1.9 million debt collection cases filed in Michigan’s district courts over the past decade or so never went to trial. Usually, the defendants don’t show up to court, and debt collectors win by default, according to data compiled by the Michigan Justice for All Commission. In most cases, the courts end up garnishing defendants’ wages, income tax returns or other assets, sometimes on the basis of complaints that include little more than the name of the creditor, an account number and the balance due.

And both debt lawsuits and garnishment are more common for people living in primarily Black neighborhoods, regardless of their income.

Members of the Commission say Michigan’s rules around debt collection lawsuits don’t do enough to protect regular people, who sometimes don’t find out they’ve been sued until they see money coming out of their paychecks.

They say those rules need to change.

An early participant in the Law Society of BC’s Innovation Sandbox, the Clinic offers the in-person and virtual help of 25 articling students located in 15 different BC communities —from Tofino to Cranbrook— with the support of 15 supervising lawyers, four staff and dozens of local mentors. Together, they provide fixed-fee services in a wide range of areas covering everyday legal problems.

 

Taking stock as the world population hits 8 billion — from mckinsey.com

Excerpt:

November 13, 2022 Projections show the global population will surpass 8 billion people on November 15, and in 2023, India is expected to surpass China to become the world’s most populous nation. It was only 11 years ago that the world reached the last billion; these milestones generate considerations of resource allocation, food security, climate change, and more. Already, one in nine people can’t get enough to eat every day, even while 33 to 40 percent of our food is lost or wasted each year, according to research from senior partners Clarisse Magnin and Björn Timelin. As we continue to grow, how can we support an unprecedented population while raising the quality of life for all? Explore our insights to learn more about how to avoid a food crisis, common misconceptions around global migration, the future of an aging population, and more.

Also see:

EIEIO’s e-newsletter of 11/13/22  where it says:

This week on Tuesday, it’s projected that a baby will be born somewhere on Planet Earth that brings the population to 8 billion people. Notably, the global population reached 7 billion people just eleven years ago. When I was born, in 1962, there was 3 billion people, and the United States had a population of 180 million versus roughly 335 million today.

.

What we know from Nobel Laureate Economist James Heckman out of the University of Chicago is that $1 invested in early childhood education produces a $7 return in economic gain. Moreover, while investment in education produces a compelling return at all stages, the earlier you invest in education, the higher the return.

 

The Digital Divide 2.0: Navigating Digital Equity and Health Equity in Education — from edsurge.com by Mordecai I. Brownlee

Excerpt:

Luckily, we don’t have to do this work alone. Mainstream awareness of the access gap is growing, which has encouraged corporations like AT&T and Comcast and organizations like United Way to respond by creating employee and community campaigns to bring forth solutions.

Such awareness has also inspired a surge in federal, state and local governments discussing solutions and infrastructure upgrades. For example, nationally, the Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program aimed at providing affordable broadband access for work, school, health care and more. It is important to note that participants must meet the Federal Poverty Guidelines eligibility standards to receive such benefits.

Also relevant/see:

Can Colleges Reach Beyond Campus to Foster ‘Digital Equity’ in Communities? — from edsurge.com by Rebecca Koenig

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

So his organization is working with the city of Orangeburg and Claflin University to extend the university’s broadband out into the surrounding community at affordable rates. And because research from McKinsey suggests that more than 80 percent of HBCUs are located in “broadband deserts,” it’s a strategy that may work elsewhere in the country, too.

“That makes HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, and universities more broadly, really interesting and powerful partners in bridging the digital divide,” Ben-Avie said.

 

From DSC:
I virtually attended the Law 2030 Conference (Nov 3-4, 2022). Jennifer Leonard and staff from the University of Pennsylvania’s Carey Law School put together a super conference! It highlighted the need for change within the legal industry. A major shout out to Jennifer Leonard, Theodore Ruger (Law School Dean), and others!

I really appreciate Jen’s vision here, because she recognizes that the legal industry needs to involve more disciplines, more specialists, and others who don’t have a JD Degree and/or who haven’t passed the Bar. On Day 1 of the conference (in the afternoon), Jen enlisted the help of several others to use Design Thinking to start to get at possible solutions to our entrenched issues.

America, our legal system is being tightly controlled and protected — by lawyers. They are out to protect their turf — no matter the ramifications/consequences of doing so. This is a bad move on many lawyers part. It’s a bad move on many Bar Associations part. Lawyers already have some major PR work to do — but when America finds out what they’ve been doing, their PR problems are going to be that much larger. I’d recommend that they change their ways and really start innovating to address the major access to justice issues that we have in the United States.

One of the highlights for me was listening to the powerful, well-thought-out presentation from Michigan’s Chief Justice Bridget McCormack — it was one of the best I’ve ever heard at a conference! She mentioned the various stakeholders that need to come to the table — which includes law schools/legal education. I also appreciated Jordan Furlong’s efforts to deliver a 15-minute presentation (virtual), which it sounded like he worked on most of the night when he found out he couldn’t be there in person! He nicely outlined the experimentation that’s going on in Canada.

Here’s the recording from Day 1:

 


Jeff Selingo’s comments this week reminded me that those of us who have worked in higher education for much of our careers also have a lot of work to do as well.


 

Addendum on 11/8/22:

 


 

What to Know About the New Rules on Pell Grants for Prison Education — from chronicle.com by Katherine Mangan

Excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Education on Thursday released final regulations that spell out how colleges can lay the groundwork for enrolling some of the more than 700,000 incarcerated people who are expected to become eligible next summer to apply for Pell Grants to pay for college.

The new prison-education initiative, which will take effect in July, will eventually replace the Second-Chance Pell Program, a pilot that began in 2015 under the Obama administration. Since then, it has grown to allow around 200 colleges to offer prison-education programs that are supported by Pell Grants, currently worth up to around $7,000 per year.

 

Future Today Institute's 2022 Tech and Science Trends Report is now available

The Future Today Institute’s 15th Anniversary Tech Trends Report

Excerpt:

Future Today Institute’s 2022 Tech and Science Trends Report is now available. Downloaded more than 1 million times each year, FTI’s annual Tech Trends Report is a must-read for every industry. Learn the key trends impacting finance, insurance, transportation, healthcare, sports, logistics, telecom, work, government and policy, security, privacy, education, agriculture, entertainment, music, CPG, hospitality and dining, ESGs, climate, space and more. Discover critical insights. See what strategic action you can take on the futures, today.

 

Utah’s reforms offer model for serving low-income and indigent people, report suggests — from abajournal.com by Matt Reynolds

Excerpt:

The Utah model of reform allowing nonlawyers to offer legal services could be “critical” to serving people who can’t afford them, according to a Stanford Law School study published Tuesday.

The 59-page report by the school’s Deborah L. Rhode Center on the Legal Profession offers an early look at how regulatory changes in Arizona and Utah have impacted the delivery of legal services. It also examined who is being served by innovations in those states.

 

Also relevant, see this upcoming webinar:

Upcoming webinar -- licensing legal paraprofessionals

Two neighboring states — Oregon and California — have recently come to different conclusions on whether to license paralegals to provide some legal services.

In July, the Oregon Supreme Court, with the support of the Oregon State Bar’s Board of Governors, approved a proposal to allow licensed paralegals to provide limited legal services in family law and landlord/tenant cases — two areas of law with large numbers of self-represented litigants. In August, the California legislature, after opposition from some lawyers’ groups, prohibited the State Bar of California from implementing, or even proposing, any loosening of existing restrictions on the unauthorized practice of law before 2025, effectively killing a proposal to permit licensing of paraprofessionals to provide limited legal services.

This webinar will explore how and why Oregon and California reached conflicting results and identify lessons learned from both experiences.

Register >>


Also relevant/see:

IAALS Panel Explores Alternative Paths to Legal Licensure — from iaals.du.edu

Redesigning Legal: Redesigning How We License New Lawyers from IAALS on Vimeo.


Also see the following items from Natalie Anne Knowlton (@natalalleycat) on Twitter

 

 

Also relevant/see the following post I created roughly a month ago:

In the USA, the perspectives of the ABA re: online-based learning — and their take on the pace of change — are downright worrisome.

In that posting I said:

For an industry in the 21st century whose main accreditation/governance body for law schools still won’t let more online learning occur without waivers…how can our nation expect future lawyers and law firms to be effective in an increasingly tech-enabled world?

The pace of the ABA is like that of a tortoise, while the pace of change is exponential

 

Is Compliance Training Killing Your Learning Culture? — from learningsolutionsmag.com by Adam Weisblatt

Excerpt:

There is a disconnect in learning and development departments in most large companies: On one hand there is an obligation to meet regulatory requirements for compliance training. On the other, there is the drive to improve business outcomes by creating a culture of learning.

These two forces can clash when expectations are not well defined.

Somewhat relevant/see:

Branching Scenario Podcast with Mark Parry — from christytuckerlearning.com by Christy Tucker
Mark Parry recently interviewed me for his podcast about branching scenarios, including how feedback is used to help learners in scenarios.

 

From DSC:
I post this with great hesitation. But there’s some truth in here.

 

Here Are Some Dos And Don’ts Of Disability Language — from forbes.com by Andrew Pulrang

Excerpt:

Is there a way for anyone to navigate disability language clearly, safely, and respectfully?

Obviously, it’s impossible to satisfy everyone. But that doesn’t mean there are no useful guidelines. Here are a few tips to sort through the competing schools of thought on disability language, and ride the various waves of popularity and revision that disability language goes through.

1. Recognize obviously insulting terms and stop using or tolerating them.
2. Aim to be factual, descriptive, and simple, not condescending, sentimental, or awkward.
3. Respect disabled people’s actual language preferences.

Disability Language Style Guide — from National Center on Disaplity and Journalism (ncdj.org)

Disability and Health Overview  — from cdc.gov

Research Center | ALICE in focus studies:
Financial Hardship Among People With Disabilities

Excerpt:

According to the outdated Federal Poverty Level, 18% of people with disabilities in the U.S. lived in poverty in 2019. Yet United For ALICE data shows that another 34% were also struggling, in households that earned above the FPL but less than what it costs to afford the basics. These households are ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

Disability & Socioeconomic Status — from the American Psychological Association (apa.org)

Excerpt:

Socioeconomic status (SES) encompasses not just income but also educational attainment, financial security, and subjective perceptions of social status and social class. Socioeconomic status can encompass quality of life attributes as well as the opportunities and privileges afforded to people within society. Poverty, specifically, is not a single factor but rather is characterized by multiple physical and psychosocial stressors. Further, SES is a consistent and reliable predictor of a vast array of outcomes across the life span, including physical and psychological health. Thus, SES is relevant to all realms of behavioral and social science, including research, practice, education and advocacy.

Those with Disabilities Earn 37% Less on Average; Gap is Even Wider in Some States — air.org

Subminimum Wage and Sheltered Workshops — from United Way of South Central Michigan

Congress enacted the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 as part of the New Deal; one of the Act’s provisions, Section 14 (c), grants special certificates allowing for the employment of workers with disabilities below the federal minimum wage.

Many employers operating under 14(c) have historically employed people with disabilities in segregated work centers commonly referred to as sheltered workshops. This creates a situation where the employer profits from paying sub-minimum wages to their employees with disabilities. Some states have prohibited the practice of subminimum wages and sheltered workshops altogether; however as of 2020, 46 states and the District of Columbia continue to allow 14(c) certificates. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights revealed that in 2017 and 2018, the average wage of a person with a disability working under a 14(c) certificate was $3.34 per hour and the average number of hours worked was 16 hours per week, making the average wage just $53.44 per week.

Employment First is a state and national movement to help individuals with disabilities realize their fullest employment potential through the achievement of individual, competitive, and integrated employment outcomes. Employment First in Michigan has established guidelines to help move the state to community-based and integrated employment by using executive orders and passing legislation.

 

I think we’ve run out of time to effectively practice law in the United States of America [Christian]


From DSC:
Given:

  • the accelerating pace of change that’s been occurring over the last decade or more
  • the current setup of the legal field within the U.S. — and who can practice law
  • the number of emerging technologies now on the landscapes out there

…I think we’ve run out of time to effectively practice law in the U.S. — at least in terms of dealing with emerging technologies. Consider the following items/reflections.


Inside one of the nation’s few hybrid J.D. programs — from highereddive.com by Natalie Schwartz
Shannon Gardner, Syracuse law school’s associate dean for online education, talks about the program’s inaugural graduates and how it has evolved.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

In May, Syracuse University’s law school graduated its first class of students earning a Juris Doctor degree through a hybrid program, called JDinteractive, or JDi. The 45 class members were part of almost 200 Syracuse students who received a J.D. this year, according to a university announcement.

The private nonprofit, located in upstate New York, won approval from the American Bar Association in 2018 to offer the three-year hybrid program.

The ABA strictly limits distance education, requiring a waiver for colleges that wish to offer more than one-third of their credits online. To date, the ABA has only approved distance education J.D. programs at about a dozen schools, including Syracuse.

Many folks realize this is the future of legal education — not that it will replace traditional programs. It is one route to pursue a legal education that is here to stay. I did not see it as pressure, and I think, by all accounts, we have definitely proven that it is and can be a success.

Shannon Gardner, associate dean for online education  


From DSC:
It was March 2018. I just started working as a Director of Instructional Services at a law school. I had been involved with online-based learning since 2001.

I was absolutely shocked at how far behind law schools were in terms of offering 100% online-based programs. I was dismayed to find out that 20+ years after such undergraduate programs were made available — and whose effectiveness had been proven time and again — that there were no 100%-online based Juris Doctor (JD) programs in the U.S. (The JD degree is what you have to have to practice law in the U.S. Some folks go on to take further courses after obtaining that degree — that’s when Masters of Law programs like LLM programs kick in.)

Why was this I asked? Much of the answer lies with the extremely tight control that is exercised by the American Bar Association (ABA). They essentially lay down the rules for how much of a law student’s training can be online (normally not more than a third of one’s credit hours, by the way).

Did I say it’s 2022? And let me say the name of that organization again — the American Bar Association (ABA).

Graphic by Daniel S. Christian

Not to scare you (too much), but this is the organization that is supposed to be in charge of developing lawyers who are already having to deal with issues and legal concerns arising from the following technologies:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) — Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Processing (NLP), algorithms, bots, and the like
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) and/or the Internet of Everything (IoE)
  • Extended Reality (XR) — Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR), Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Holographic communications
  • Big data
  • High-end robotics
  • The Metaverse
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • NFTs
  • Web3
  • Blockchain
  • …and the like

I don’t think there’s enough time for the ABA — and then law schools — to reinvent themselves. We no longer have that luxury. (And most existing/practicing lawyers don’t have the time to get up the steep learning curves involved here — in addition to their current responsibilities.)

The other option is to use teams of specialists, That’s our best hope. If the use of what’s called nonlawyers* doesn’t increase greatly, the U.S. has little hope of dealing with legal matters that are already arising from such emerging technologies. 

So let’s hope the legal field catches up with the pace of change that’s been accelerating for years now. If not, we’re in trouble.

* Nonlawyers — not a very complimentary term…
I hope they come up with something else.
Some use the term Paralegals.
I’m sure there are other terms as well. 


From DSC:
There is hope though. As Gabe Teninbaum just posted the resource below (out on Twitter). I just think the lack of responsiveness from the ABA has caught up with us. We’ve run out of time for doing “business as usual.”

Law students want more distance education classes, according to ABA findings — from abajournal.com by Stephanie Francis Ward

Excerpt:

A recent survey of 1,394 students in their third year of law school found that 68.65% wanted the ability to earn more distance education credits than what their schools offered.


 

Aurora Institute: Federal Policy Priorities and Recommendations 2022 — from aurora-institute.org

Introduction:

It is critically important for our country to reimagine education and focus on investing in our future, not our past. The current K-12 education system has not produced equitable outcomes for all students. We must change policies and invest in innovation to transform our education systems. Student-centered policies are needed for true systems change and innovations for equity. We must challenge frames and investments that perpetuate tinkering with the existing system, rather than reimagining it. The time is ripe to redesign education to align with future needs and purposes to achieve human flourishing.

To ensure all learners are prepared for life’s uncertainties, as well as a more knowledge-driven workforce and economy, we must restructure the education system to universally recognize anytime, anywhere learning. Many states and districts have taken steps to move in new and improved directions, but more work must be done to meet students where they are and accelerate them to successful futures and prosperity. We must question the fundamental purposes of our education system, align our goals to that purpose, and expand learning to anytime and anyplace, with greater opportunities for next generation learning.

Aurora Institute’s latest Federal Policy Priorities represent an equity-oriented and future-focused set of recommendations designed to ensure that the nation’s education system moves from its current state to a system capable of preparing all learners with the knowledge and skills necessary to achieve lifelong success.

 


From DSC:
I post this because I like the design thinking exhibited herein. I love the idea of greater collaboration between K-12, higher education, vocational training, and the workforce/workplace. We should consider eliminating — or at least building much better bridges between the — existing silos. These silos seem to be easier to put up than they are to take down.


 

 

Metaverse, NFTs, Web3 And Virtual Land In The Sandbox — from forbes.com by Bernard Marr

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

So, what does Borget – undeniably one of the pioneers of the concept – think the metaverse actually is?

“For us, metaverse is really this myriad of worlds,” he tells me during our recent webinar conversation, “that users can experience through an avatar that becomes a 3D representation of themselves.”

These avatars are the key to unlocking “all sorts of new experiences … more creative, more immersive, unlike what we’ve seen before with traditional virtual worlds, where users can already socialize … here, what’s important is the ability of users to truly own their own identity, own their own belongings, digital assets, virtual land, houses … and are able to move that identity from one world to another without being constrained.”

“There will be millions of virtual worlds, places where users can take their avatars,” Borget continues. “What’s important is this ability to move from one to another while … keeping all their content they create in one and using it in others.”


Also see:

Metaverse Opportunities, risks and policy implications — from europarl.europa.eu by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS)
Metaverse Opportunities, risks and policy implications

Summary:

One of the most talked about concepts in modern technology, the metaverse can be described as an immersive and constant virtual 3D world where people interact by means of an avatar to carry out a wide range of activities. Such activities can range from leisure and gaming to professional and commercial interactions, financial transactions or even health interventions such as surgery. While the exact scope and impact of the metaverse on society and on the economy is still unknown, it can already be seen that the metaverse will open up a range of opportunities but also a number of risks in a variety of policy areas.

Major tech companies are scaling up their metaverse activities, including through mergers and acquisitions. This has given impetus to a debate on how merger regulations and antitrust law should apply. Business in the metaverse is expected to be underpinned largely by cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens, raising issues of ownership, misuse, interoperability and portability. Furthermore, the huge volume of data used in the metaverse raises a number of data protection and cybersecurity issues (e.g. how to collect user consent or protect avatars against identity theft).

There is considerable scope for a wide range of illegal and harmful behaviours and practices in the metaverse environment. This makes it essential to consider how to attribute responsibility, inter alia, for fighting illegal and harmful practices and misleading advertising practices, and for protecting intellectual property rights. Moreover, digital immersion in the metaverse can have severe negative impacts on health, especially for vulnerable groups, such as minors, who may require special protection. Finally, the accessibility and inclusiveness of the metaverse remain areas where progress has still to be made in order to create an environment of equal opportunities.


Also see the following from the Legal Talk Network — with Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell

  • Metavisting the Metaverse – Dennis and Tom plunge into the metaverse—its trends, current tech, and possibilities for the future.
  • The Wild World of NFTs – Dennis and Tom dive into these unique digital objects (art, video, and much more) and outline the issues surrounding their current hype and value in the real world.

 

Denis Kennedy and Tom Mighell -- run the Legal Talk Network podcast

 


 
© 2022 | Daniel Christian