Angelik Edmonds

Angelik’s Essay

In order to curtail the gap between low-income individuals and justice, the legal industry,
alongside the assistance of the educational and technological fields must work in harmony to create viable
solutions. The best solution is to create a two-tier, multi-dimensional approach to streamline the
adjudication and education processes in low-income communities.

With the major advances of technology, the adjudication process can be largely operated online.
The first step in this process would be to create online, secure databases to hold court documents for easy
finding. After this system is deemed fully operational, the entire U.S. court systems, both state and
federal, would only accept online document submission. Documents submitted online would
immediately be screened through tagging software designed to identify headings and keywords required
for submission. If a document is missing required paragraphs or has insufficient information, the
electronic ITAG system would alert the sender of possible errors and give him/her the opportunity to
correct those mistakes. The ITAG system would maximize judicial economy by eliminating burdensome
premature document review. Subsequently, simple trials and hearings could be conducted using video
streaming software such as Google Hangout-which allows several people to conference using video and
audio. The use of this technology would allow attorneys to maximize their efficiency. In order for
courtrooms to be retrofitted with these technological additions, the government would likely need to
partner with a major tech company like HP or Microsoft. The government should run a pilot program in
each U.S. region for six months to perfect the systems before rolling the additions out to the remaining
states.

Education is the second foundational piece to supplement legal aid’s services for low-income
populations. Primarily, law schools should update their curriculums to require a social responsibility
course and a 100-hour community service requirement. Students can choose which organization(s) they
would like to volunteer with, and service agencies can use the student support to supplement their
manpower. Furthermore, law schools sharing the same state should collaborate and create an interactive
state-specific website designed to provide legal information for individuals facing legal problems. More
than likely, the website creation would require the assistance of a tech company or tech students. On the
front-end of the site, an easy-navigation toolbar would guide clients to their sought information. Each
page would include information about the most common legal problems (i.e. traffic, child custody,
landlord-tenant) with graphs of the adjudication process, statutes interpreted in lamest terms, and possible
resources should they need additional assistance. Although each state could choose which legal topics are
most relevant, it is important that the overall website structure and design be the same; a similar design
will increase comprehension and cohesiveness among the varying states. On the back-end of the site,
public service agencies would have access to the site statistics (i.e. which topics and pages were viewed
most often-in order to update the site to the needs of visitors) and a list of relevant cases and statutes to
refer to and/or pass on to an agency or attorney that may take the case. The back-end of the site would
allow law firms and solo practitioners to opt-in and accept a particular type of legal issue/case
electronically. This feature would allow service agencies to transfer cases to volunteering attorneys in a
more efficient manner. Moreover, law firms, in collaboration with public service agencies, should create
an outreach program to educate members of the community. Perhaps, twice per month, law firm
associates, interns, and law students could visit middle schools, high schools, and churches to address
common myths and misconceptions about the adjudication process, inform people of their basic rights,
and provide information to prospective attorneys about the path to law school. These informational
sessions would relieve some tension from service agencies, supplement the website, and create a pipeline
to increase diversity in the legal profession.

I believe these two systems, in combination with one another, will work well to address the huge
disparity between the need for representation and limited resources for low-income communities. With
these alterations in mind, people of color can have access to attorneys that look like them, low-income
populations can receive the education they need to educate themselves, law students can teach aspiring
attorneys how to achieve their goals, and service agencies like legal aid can benefit from law firm and
technological support.