Next Steps for Reaching the Vision
LSC will reconvene the group that planned the Summit to discuss how to achieve the goals identified in this document. It is anticipated that this group will present the vision for an integrated system to other national organizations supporting access-to-justice entities, urging their endorsement and asking for their support and guidance.
Activities for the steering committee may include designating:
- A small group to provide day-to-day direction to the initiative
- An appropriate supporting entity that can receive and administer funding raised to support the effort
- A more detailed action plan and timeline for the initiative revised on at least an annual basis
- A plan for generating and dispensing the funding that will be necessary to implement the initiative
It will be essential for the steering committee to communicate with the national organizations that represent access-to-justice stakeholders. The committee must reach out to, and obtain the support of, Access to Justice Commissions in every state in which they exist. These entities are natural allies, because they invariably have cross-organizational memberships and missions.
The steering committee must inform the trial court community of the vision to develop a general level of acceptance and to prepare a receptive environment for overtures from local legal services programs and bar associations to participate in pilot program activities. The Steering Committee must also engage with representatives of the joint committees on Access, Fairness and Public Trust of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators, with the National Center for State Courts, and with the National Association for Court Management to develop a strategy for reaching a significant part of the courts community.
This vision calls on legal services organizations to rethink a service delivery model that has been in place for more than a generation. LSC will need to reach out to and work closely with legal services leaders to obtain their input and assistance.
The steering committee will conduct an analysis of the costs associated with developing, deploying, and maintaining the pilot projects proposed. This analysis will produce an estimate sufficient to provide the basis for developing a funding strategy.
The committee will develop a funding strategy to seek financial support from multiple sources with the goal of leveraging congressional appropriations through additional private funding, including:
- LSC’s Technology Initiative Grant program for essential initial activities, provided TIG funds are within the framework of the TIG program and awarded using the existing competitive process
- The State Justice Institute
- State legislatures and courts
- IOLTA programs
- Private foundations
- Corporate sponsors
- Individual donors
- Private venture capital investment in supportive applications that involve lawyers in the provision of unbundled legal services.
The strategy should include periodic meetings of all entities that supply financial support for the initiative to provide them with progress reports.
Even if all of the pilot projects prove successful, the initiative might fail unless the pilots are replicated in other jurisdictions. It is unrealistic to expect any funding strategy to find enough new money to do this replication. The pilots should be able to demonstrate not only that they improve access to justice, but that they are cost-neutral or result in savings. Therefore, a component of each pilot’s evaluation needs to be a study of the return on investment for the project. To be most effective, these pilots will need an evaluation strategy that establishes the business case for their replication with hard data.
The initiative will need a communications program to provide progress reports on projects and to keep the access-to-justice community (both IT specialists and legal practitioners) informed concerning emerging best-of-breed applications, technology trends and developments, and strategic analyses of the implications of larger technology trends for the initiative and for the access-to-justice community more broadly.
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