AALL President Holly M. Riccio Reflects on the ABA National Summit on Innovation in Legal Services
Earlier this year, ABA President William Hubbard established the Commission on the Future of Legal Services to improve the delivery of—and access to–legal services. The Commission published an Issues Paper, requesting that key stakeholders submit written comments, which AALL did. The Commission also held hearings at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Houston, in February, and I was able to attend on behalf of AALL and testify—along with other bar leaders, judges, law firm practice managers, and legal service providers—focusing my remarks on libraries’ integral role in expanding access to justice for all individuals and communities.
The culminating event for this Commission was the invitation-only National Summit on Innovation in Legal Services, which took place last month at Stanford Law School, assembling 200 participants, all proven leaders and innovators in the legal profession.
AALL was invited to participate in this event, convened to “challenge thought leaders both from within and beyond the legal profession to . . . spark fresh thinking about the delivery of legal services and to find new, actionable ideas that are not constrained by traditional models and are rooted in the essential values of protecting the public, enhancing diversity and inclusion, and pursuing justice for all.” The two-day event–packed with inspiring keynote speakers, panelists, and TED-style mini-lectures, and combined with ample time for breakout sessions organized around the key areas identified in the Issues Paper–was not only a great opportunity for AALL to start developing richer relationships and collaborations with the ABA in the access to justice arena, but also reflective of the commitment by the ABA leadership to bring about real change in the way we define and deliver legal services.
The topics covered over the course of the two days included innovation both within and beyond the legal sphere, challenges to innovation, focusing on the client, “Bridge the Gap” programs, and, at the conclusion of the Summit, reporting out from the breakout sessions with a reaction panel. There were five different breakout session topics that attendees were pre-assigned to, based on their interests: Access Solutions for the Underserved, Blue Sky Innovation, Dispute Resolution, Preventive Law, and Regulatory Opportunities.
I was assigned to one of the two Access Solutions for the Underserved breakout groups, and others in the group represented organizations and associations that have a vested interest in access to justice. Judging from what I experienced in my breakout session and the reports from the other breakout groups, there are definitely possibilities for AALL to partner with the ABA on some of these newly identified opportunities to provide better access to justice.
Some of the more obvious ones were library involvement and participation in co-location as a means to provide legal services and resources, and collaborating with states to provide content (in the form of links to primary and secondary legal resources) for state legal help portals. Some of the other interesting opportunities I saw were to possibly partner with the ABA on a grant to promote and encourage technology innovation and to collaborate with legal hackers to create sites and apps aimed at providing legal information to the public.
Now, the hard work for the ABA will really begin, with the Commission taking all the inspiration and information from the Summit and creating and prioritizing action items to implement change in the legal profession.
For a more in-depth overview of the ABA National Summit on Innovation in Legal Services, check out my summary of the highlights and takeaways on the AALL Spectrum Blog.
Holly M. Riccio