It felt strange to dust off my blogging chops in order 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 working up in Alaska with the Alaska Court System’s under the Justice For All statewide action plan. In this role, I’m tasked to perform a statewide inter-organizational social network analysis to uncover the relationships between legal, health, information and social service organizations to better 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 to the topic at hand that click baited you to read this article.
Amongst a growing segment of the access to justice community there is unfettered optimism that technology and innovation is the key 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 for law students that equips them with tech and other interdisciplinary skills to better ensure A2J. Ironic I’m 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 ensuring 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 explanations. In part 3, I hope to provide some practical solutions to address these shortcomings.
- Lack of Diversity in Legal Tech & A2J Technology Community (Legal Profession: Cisgender straight white male majority/ Technology Sector: Cisgender straight white male majority– Legal Profession + Technology Sector = larger cisgender straight white males majority, Communities A2J technologies intended to serve = Mainly Poor Communities of Color)
- Many conflate legal tech and A2J tech
- 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 have not adopted tech within curriculum
- Model for Creation of A2J technologies is 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 of play is susceptible to create a larger gap, ( design bias, data bias become cooked into tech solutions.
- Egocentricity of lawyers in planning, development and implementation of A2J Technologies.
- Race is not at all in the conversation
- Green washing Pro Bono services in A2J tech
Feel free to reach me at @miguelelcapiton or firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts or comments. Part 2 coming soon.