Summit Report Outlines New Ways Technology Can Expand Access to Justice

WASHINGTON--The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) today released the report of a national summit on ways to use technology to provide all Americans some form of effective assistance with essential civil legal needs.

More than 75 representatives of legal aid programs, courts, government, and business as well as technology experts, academics, and private practitioners convened at two sessions in 2012 and 2013 to explore the many ways technology can expand access to justice.

The “Report of The Summit on the Use of Technology to Expand Access to Justice” presents a number of concrete recommendations to broaden and improve civil legal assistance through an integrated service-delivery system that brings the knowledge and wisdom of legal experts to the public through computers and mobile devices.

“This report is important,” said LSC President James J. Sandman.  “It charts a path to a future where, through the smart and disciplined use of technology, the legal aid community can provide some form of assistance to everyone with a significant civil legal problem -- and not have to turn people away with nothing.”

The strategy for achieving this goal has five main components:

  • Creating in each state a unified “legal portal” which directs persons needing legal assistance to the most appropriate form of assistance and guides self-represented litigants through the entire legal process.
  • Deploying sophisticated document assembly applications to support the creation of legal documents by service providers and by litigants themselves.
  • Taking advantage of mobile technologies to reach more persons more effectively.
  • Applying business process/analysis to all access-to-justice activities to make them as efficient as practicable.
  • Developing “expert systems” to assist lawyers and other services providers access authoritative  knowledge through a computer and apply it to particular factual situations.

LSC hosted the summit, and formed a planning group to design it that included  participants from LSC’s grantees, the American Bar Association, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the National Center for State Courts, the New York State courts, the Self-Represented Litigation Network, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Access to Justice Initiative.

LSC was established by the Congress in 1974 to provide equal access to justice and to ensure the delivery of high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 134 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Click here to view the report

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974. For 50 years, LSC has provided financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 131 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.