The Innovation Gap: With So Much Tech, Why Aren’t We Better at Delivering Justice?

We live in a time of unprecedented and exponential innovation in legal technology. Yet the justice gap in our country keeps widening. The majority of low and moderate income people go without legal help, and the nationwide number of unrepresented litigants keeps rising.

Most would agree that technology is one key to bridging this gap. If so, then why this anomaly of better-and-better technology and a wider-and-wider gap?

I keep hearing that we need more innovation — that we need new and better technology. I’m all for more innovation. But I do not believe that a lack of innovation accounts for this situation. The fact is that we have all the tech we need, available to us right now, to more meaningfully address the justice gap.

What stands in the way is not a lack of innovate technology, it is that the legal system resists innovation. The institutions of law and the business of law are structured in ways that fight innovation and change. The legal profession, as a whole, does not want innovation. Until we have a major shift in the profession’s mindset, then all the innovation we can muster will never close the gap.

This is the subject of a two-part column I am publishing on Above the Law. It is adapted from the keynote address I recently gave at the Legal Services Corporation’s Innovations in Technology Conference.

Part one is now up and part two will come next week.

Read: The Innovation Gap (Part 1): Why The Justice System Has Failed To Keep Pace With Technology.

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  • Rick Weiler

    Great topic and important question. I agree with your premise that the challenge is that, “the legal system resists innovation.” But, why is that? Obviously a big part of the answer is economic – a concern among participants in the legal system that changes in the rules governing access to justice will leave them less (perhaps, much less) well off economically than they are at present. Those concerns are legitimate and need to factor into the design of policy responses.