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The Innovation Gap: Why the Justice System Has Failed to Keep Pace with Technology and What to Do About It


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This was my keynote delivered to the Legal Services Corporation's 2018 Innovations in Tech Conference. Few would dispute that technology is one of the keys to addressing the justice gap. Yet at a time when technological innovation abounds, the justice gap grows only wider. The problem is not technology – it is the justice system’s failure to employ it. In this program, we’ll explore the impediments to broader use of technology and what can be done to overcome them.

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The Innovation Gap: Why the Justice System Has Failed to Keep Pace with Technology and What to Do About It

  1. 1. The Innovation Gap Why the Justice System Has Failed to Keep Pace with Technology and What to Do About It Robert J. Ambrogi LSC Innovation in Technology Conference January 10, 2018
  2. 2. The tools have evolved, but the practice has not.
  3. 3. 80% low-income 60% moderate-income
  4. 4. 47% domestic violence cases turned away
  5. 5. $27 million IOLTA fell 191 to 128 Legal aid lawyers fell 800K to 974K Eligibility grew.
  6. 6. “Technology can and must play a vital role in transforming service delivery so that all poor people in the United States with an essential civil legal need obtain some form of effective assistance.”
  7. 7. The problem is not that we lack innovative technology, it is that the system resists innovation.
  8. 8. The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed. -William Gibson
  9. 9. Lawyers fear technology.
  10. 10. Lawyers lack competence in technology.
  11. 11. “I have to confess to this court, I am not computer literate. I have not found presence in the cybernetic revolution. I need a secretary to help me turn on the computer. This was out of my bailiwick.”
  12. 12. The legal profession is a protectionist guild that sees innovation as a threat.
  13. 13. The law firm profit model favors inefficiency.
  14. 14. It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. -Upton Sinclair
  15. 15. Courts are stuck in a vicious circle that blocks change.
  16. 16. Tech investment goes where the money is.
  17. 17. We need to reboot the system.
  18. 18. 1. Require tech competence.
  19. 19. ABA Model Rule 1.1, Comment 8 “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology … .”
  20. 20. 28 States Have Adopted Comment 8
  21. 21. • CA Formal Opinion No. 2015-193 • ABA Formal Opinion 477 (2017)
  22. 22. • Understand the nature of any threat. • Understand how client confidential info is transmitted and stored. • Understand and use reasonable electronic security measures. • Train lawyers and assistants in technology and information security. • Conduct due diligence on vendors providing communication technology.
  23. 23. 2. Require – or at least provide – tech training.
  24. 24. Procertas Legal Tech Assessment Word • Accept/Turn-off changes and comments • Cut & Paste • Replace text • Format text • Footers • Insert hyperlink • Apply/Modify style • Insert/Update cross-references • Insert page break • Insert non-breaking space • Clean document properties • Create comparison document Excel • Copy/Rename worksheet • Insert column • Format column width • Format text • Sort • Filter • Remove duplicates • Divide • Count • Sum • Average • Prepare to print PDF • Convert Word & Excel documents to PDF • Create single PDF from multiple files • Recognize text (OCR) • Extract page • Highlight text • Redact information • Insert footer • Create bookmark • Create internal link • Remove hidden Info • Password protect
  25. 25. 3. Push (shame) law firms to innovate.
  26. 26. My hope is that clients, including legal departments, will consult this index and engage in deep discussions with their lawyers about how to improve legal- service delivery. -Daniel W. Linna Jr.
  27. 27. 4. Push (shame) law schools to teach tech and innovation.
  28. 28. 5. Let go of idea that lawyers, alone, can close the gap.
  29. 29. 900 hours Pro bono required of every lawyer to provide some assistance to all households with legal needs. $50 billion Annual cost to secure just one hour of legal help for all households with an unmet dispute-related need $3.7 billion Current legal aid expenditure
  30. 30. 6. Let go of idea that lawyers are the gold standard.
  31. 31. “The myth that exhaustive manual review is the most effective—and therefore the most defensible—approach to document review is strongly refuted. “Technology-assisted review can (and does) yield more accurate results than exhaustive manual review, with much lower effort.”
  32. 32. 7. Rewrite the regulatory rules.
  33. 33. Meeting demand will require a massive shift in the production technology for legal services to dramatically reduce costs. The only way to achieve the kind of scale and innovation needed is through the corporate practice of law. -Gillian Hadfield
  34. 34. 8. Measure what works and what doesn’t.
  35. 35. 50 Randomized control trials ever in law
  36. 36. “In no field is resistance to evidence- based thinking more ferocious than in United States legal practice.”
  37. 37. Query: Is a tenant in housing court better off receiving limited, lawyer-for-the-day assistance or full legal representation?
  38. 38. 9. Encourage funding sources to promote innovation and testing.
  39. 39. 10. Push courts to innovate.
  40. 40. 60 million Disputes per year 90% Resolved
  41. 41. Proselytize!
  42. 42. Robert Ambrogi @bobambrogi