Let’s be frank. For lawyers in the 21st century, the legal landscape is ever-changing and technology is playing a vital role in this progress. Mobile applications, chatbots, and automated processes (just to name a few), are being deployed throughout the legal community. I will admit, I am a bit “old school.” I still write letters, I still wash my dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, I even use a physical day planner. Like many others, I found the movie “IRobot” to be a bit creepy (not Will Smith, just the rebellious robots). Artificial intelligence can be somewhat terrifying. However, the thought of so many people’s legal needs being unmet is even more terrifying. If I have to step out of my comfort zone to create access to justice, so be it. After attending Seattle’s first-ever Social Justice Hackathon last year. I was motivated to take on an Access to Justice Technology Fellowship this summer. The training and live webinars provided by the ATJ Tech Fellows Program have been imperative in regards to refining skills, methods and resources for legal technology fellows. My host site this summer is Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC) in Anchorage, Alaska (https://www.alsc-law.org). So far, I have had the opportunity to assist in the development of tools, forms, and processes all geared toward expanding access to justice.
Low income should not equate to low levels of justice. This is why ALSC and other legal aid organizations across the United States are providing free legal services to low-income clients facing civil legal matters. My first assignment at ALSC consists of utilizing technology to facilitate the delivery of legal education materials and legal forms in order to strengthen ALSC’s Pro Bono Training Academy (PBTA). The PBTA is accessed via the Alaska Advocates website (www.alaskaadvocates.org). Let’s just say, the website is an online legal data bank designed to aid attorneys. The PBTA is a vital resource for pro bono attorneys as well as attorneys who seek additional training in a given area of law. As such, I have been preparing and assisting with the production of live video webinars and archived video presentations as part of the PBTA. The first webinar I produced focuses on the adoption process in Alaska. I am also in the process of creating accessible materials that specifically embody legal issues faced by Alaska Native and American Indians, in addition to working on an Elder Justice Project and building a chatbot. Stay tuned for updates on these projects throughout the summer!
Why the Need for Tech in the Last Frontier?
Having access to an online legal data bank allows attorneys to undergo necessary training, access required forms, and refer back to the steps pertinent to their case. Simply put, it saves time! LESS TIME SPENT LEADS TO MORE CLIENTS SERVED…
This option saves supervising attorneys ample time by providing the educational materials on the front end. For instance, if a pro bono attorney is taking on a case in an area of law in which they need additional training, the pro bono attorney can refer to the live webinars and then direct any logistical or procedural questions to their supervising attorney. Not having to draft the forms from the initial phase saves time and also ensures efficiency. Along with producing training materials for attorneys, I enjoy creating accessible resources for people seeking legal assistance. For instance, I am working on technical and content improvements for the Alaskatribes.org website which is dedicated to providing Alaska’s Native Tribes with resources regarding tribal courts and Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) proceedings. The goal is to make the site more user and mobile friendly, allowing online users to access the content directly from their phone. Advocates are continuously discovering increased access to resources inevitably leads to increased access to justice.
“Sustainable development is the pathway to the future we want for all. It offers a framework to generate economic growth, achieve social justice, exercise environmental stewardship and strengthen governance.” –Ban Ki-moon