Georgetown Law Launches Access-to-Justice Initiative to Deploy Technologists to Courts

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Georgetown Law today announced the Judicial Innovation Fellowship to bring experienced technologists and designers into state, local, and tribal courts to develop innovative solutions that improve the public’s access to justice. This first-of-its-kind program will place its inaugural cohort of fellows in September 2023.

“Technology innovation represents the most cost-effective, widely beneficial opportunity for courts to meet the needs of their 21st century users,” said Judge Jennifer Bailey of Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit and Judicial Innovation Fellowship advisor. “The Judicial Innovation Fellowship represents a real chance to move forward.”

Each year, 55 million Americans experience 260 million civil legal problems—including issues with eviction, consumer debt, domestic violence, veterans’ benefits, and health care. Despite this staggering number, court processes are often confusing and not user-friendly. Made easier with an attorney, vanishingly fewer Americans enter civil court with representation. Ninety-two percent of low-income individuals facing a legal problem receive inadequate or no legal help, a problem increasingly felt by the middle class. This gap between need and support has created a national access to justice crisis that urgently requires new solutions from courts.

“As more and more people come to court without a lawyer, we, as court leaders, need smart, innovative solutions to improve how we interact with the public,” said Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack. “The Judicial Innovation Fellowship helps courts move toward a more innovative and equitable future.”

Innovation Fellows will be embedded in courts working on projects to improve public interactions with courts online. Projects may include streamlining burdensome processes, such as changing a court date and assisting the collection and use of data. All projects will focus on bettering the transparency, efficiency, and equity of our justice system.

The program is led by Schmidt Innovation Fellow Jason Tashea and Prof. Tanina Rostain. The Judicial Innovation Fellowship is housed at the Justice Lab at the Institute for Technology Law & Policy at Georgetown Law.

For those interested in learning more about how to participate, the Judicial Innovation Fellowship will host information sessions for courts on January 11 at 12pm PT/3pm ET and for technologists and designers on February 28 at 12:30 pm PT/3:30 pm ET. An open application process for courts and fellows will start early next year.

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SOURCE Georgetown University Law Center