In the Legal Services Corporation’s “Talk Justice” podcast, legal experts came together to discuss their primary takeaways from the Innovations in Technology Conference.
Hosting the discussion was Jason Tashea, a member of LSC’s Emerging Leaders Council; Quinten Steenhuis, a clinical fellow at the Suffolk University of Law; Vivian Hessel, the chief information officer at Legal Aid Chicago; and Teri Ross, the executive director of Illinois Legal Aid Online. The conversation centered on legal tech topics like data security, user-centered design, cross-jurisdiction collaboration, and the digital divide, which were the topics of this year’s conference.
Almost two years into many legal processes being online, lawyers and legal aid providers continue to struggle with the increasing need to support digital literacy and create accessible platforms.
Steenhuis said he was worried things would regress after the initial progress of integrating technology into law, but was pleased the growth has stayed. While it seemed like technology was incorporated overnight, many of the systems had already been worked on quietly and were ready to go.
Now that many tech tools have been rolled out or scaled up, legal providers are thinking about how to improve user experience.
Hessel suggested providers should learn to think like technologists.
“People who work with technology are used to seeing things fail and having it be okay because there is so much that you learn from that, but lawyers aren’t necessarily trained to think that way,” he said. “It’s important that we actually do try different things—and we do let them fail when they fail—and then learn from those experiences.”
Ross believes that aside from the obvious technology changes to court processes, the basic outlook of the courts is changing for the better.
“The court system is designed for lawyers and judges. I think that we are seeing this very gradual change, and many courts are realizing that their customer is not the lawyer or the judge, the customer is the person who is trying to access justice,” he said.
Future episodes of the podcast will cover new tech trade associations that will support access to justice and provide a look at how the pandemic has impacted pro bono legal services.
Talk Justice episodes are available online at Spotify, Stitcher, Apple, and other popular podcast apps. The podcast is sponsored by LSC’s Leaders Council.