It felt strange to dust off my blogging chops to collect my initial thoughts for this piece after a long hiatus. But I felt an incessant need to share my views on this topic. For the last two months I have been MIA on social media, blogging, and in the public scene for a variety professional and personal reasons that I will not divulge to much of your attention with.

In short, I’m currently up in Alaska working at the Alaska Court System under the Justice For All grant. In this role, I’m tasked to perform a statewide inter-organizational social network analysis to uncover the relationships between human and social service organizations and understand their legal referral pathways for early detection of health and social harming legal issues. If you didn’t understand what any of that meant, google “Social Network Analysis.”

Ok, back at the topic to which you were click baited to read this article.

Amongst a growing segment of the access to justice community there is an unfettered optimism that technology and innovation will hold great promise to improve the delivery of legal services and help bridge our nation’s justice gap. I consider myself apart of this community, and even founded a national fellowship program named the “Access to Justice Technology Fellows program.” Ironic I writing this piece huh?

In any event, this post will be the first of a three part piece. My goal in part 1 is to impart with you my general thoughts jotted down in bulleted form of why the current state of access to justice technologies will fall short of its goal of ushering in greater legal access for poor and marginalized communities. I hope to engage some discussion from my lack explanations. In part 2, I will expound upon each of these points and provide further explanation. Part 3, I hope to provide some practical solutions to possibly cure some of these shortcomings.

  • Lack of Diversity in A2J Technology Community (Legal Profession = White Male Dominated Technology Sector = White Male Dominated Legal Profession + Technology Sector = Super White Male Dominated, Communnities legal technologies intended to serve = Mainly Poor Communities of Color)
  • Group Think Mentality
  • Lack of Understanding of the Communities Intended to Serve
  • Lack of Understanding of How Poor Peoples Legal Problem Fit into a Much Larger Narrative of Institutionalized Poverty.
  • Lack of Understanding of How Poor People interact with institutions
  • Legal Education with the Exception of Hand Full of Law Schools are not involved
  • Model for Creation of Legal Technologies too Rigid
  • Much of the work is still done in silos
  • Build it they will come approach
  • Very catch headlines, with little thought/plan on delivery
  • Very catchy headlines, with little linkage to measurable justice outcomes
  • Current state will create Create a larger gap, ( Due to digital divide, data suggest college educated whites are largest consumes of utility technologies, create a larger vacuum at lower margins of society because legal problems compound when unaddressed.
  • Egocentricity of lawyers in planning, development and implementation of A2J Technologies.
  • Race is not in the conversation

Feel free to reach me at @miguelelcapiton or miguel@atjtechfellows.org with your thoughts or comments. Part 2 coming soon.