One item on my ever-growing Access to Justice agenda is an online hub full of worthy software solutions for legal organizations to use. Ideally, with software that is affordable if not free — and designed to be easily updated & changed. As opposed to software that is proprietary to one company, who, after they sell it to a court or a legal aid group, continues to extract money from them for updating and adapting the software.
Such a hub could set best practices for what tech legal organizations should be deploying. It could guide non-techies as to the essential categories of tech they should be using to manage their cases, interact with clients, and promote efficient and satisfying workflows inside the org. And it could house advice, tutorials, and support for how to use these tools well.
Actually setting up such a hub is not that difficult — just a matter of a website and then some initial content curation:
- what the essential tech categories should be,
- what the examples of free or low-priced tech options are, and
- some guidance as to how to use these.
What’s more challenging is getting the brand of the site elevated enough to reach all of the courts & legal aid groups that need this guidance. Building awareness and engagement — so that the users can find it and then trust it enough to follow through with its resources — that’s a harder undertaking.
Great news as I was considering creating one myself!
I think about this often.
Transparent – visible value – visible quality – no “trade secret” games
instead of the useless “teaser” documents on many (most?) legal info websites
Very low price
cover nominal operating cost
maybe a monthly subscription – $4.99 per month example
and maybe an open request to “pay more if you can & feel its value”
Complete break from the traditional “I know things – you need – pay me first” lawyer model
maybe form a public private entity or hybrid LLC – or a 501c for the shared open resources –
form collaborative work groups – plural – various practice areas – maybe organize by “client needs” vs traditional “practice areas”
Build it and they will come?
Timothy P Gilmore
215 Chesterfield Business Parkway
Chesterfield MO 63005
Interesting ideas Tim. We are hoping to encourage the use of open source software amongst social justice groups for things like case management, eDiscovery and documentation. There are a lot of great solutions out there but with pretty low visibility unless you know what to look for. A directory would go a long way to help.
The simple fact we’re able to connect here share and these ideas is a huge step forward.
The tools for collaboration have been around for awhile, but we lawyers are “precedent bound” by training and by our nature. We’re late adopters.
I’m primarily a business transactions lawyer. I handle things that are hard to handle. Complexity. I’ve always looked for ways to hammer square into round holes. There are always ways.
I’ll look deeper into private-public and hybrid structures. Share my thoughts. Usually takes me a month or two to develop ideas so wait patiently. I’ll post new thoughts when I have more to share.
We focus on connecting law students and lawyers with social justice organizations and for them they are often far behind the technological ball. A well structured and curated software directory would be extremely helpful. We are building an internal list of solutions that we will share. In what form I am not sure yet.
Another nice idea, Margaret! Happy to help with community building, etc. Various legal hack groups might be helpful too. Here are 4 “seed” proposals/examples, and there are many others:
1 – QnA Markup – by David Collarusso – http://www.qnamarkup.org/ , https://github.com/colarusso/QnAMarkup
2 – Free Law Project / Courtlistener – by Brian Carver & Mike Lissner – http://freelawproject.org/, https://github.com/freelawproject
3 – H2O – by HLSL and Berkman (I’m PM) – https://h2o.law.harvard.edu/ , https://github.com/berkmancenter/h2o
4 – Perma.cc – by HLSL (I’m PM) – https://perma.cc/ , https://github.com/harvard-lil/perma
It might also be great to use this kind of hub to collect/collaborate on needs/ideas, so that the tech folks interested in this kind of thing have a sense of what problems the A2J and legal-ed front-liners need help with. Maybe there’s an ABA angle too,.. https://twitter.com/WilliamCHubbard/status/577525671758561281
Thank you, Adam! This is a great start — I am going to think about a first draft of such a hub & use this as material for it. I really appreciate your help.
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