At the annual meeting of the American Bar Association, held earlier this month in San Francisco, Hilarie Bass was selected to serve as president-elect. She will take the helm of the organization in 2017 and intends to focus on two major issues -- closing the justice gap and promoting use of technology in the practice of law. She will also focus on the legal education system, working to update the existing model with more innovative approaches to learning.
Addressing the ABA House of Delegates, Ms. Bass discussed these areas of concentration in detail. She also referenced the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, which was just released on August 6th. Among its many recommendations, the report advises that all members of the legal profession adapt to changes in the delivery of client services. Legal practitioners must be aware of relevant technology and know how to use it effectively, allowing for more efficient workflows and increased protection of privileged data. Innovations in technology are the key to remaining relevant in an age of rapid change, when process improvement is critical and technological proficiency is a must.
In addition to tech skills, Ms. Bass discussed the need for restored faith in the justice system, particularly among low-income citizens and those who belong to minority demographic groups. Ms. Bass feels strongly that race, gender, religion, and income should not determine one's ability to access to the legal system, and she's already taken steps to help mitigate the effect that our own implicit biases based on these characteristics can have on the administration of justice. As a member of the ABA Section on Litigation, Ms. Bass helped create the Implicit Bias Initiative, a resource to assist legal professionals in identifying their personal biases. At the center of this initiative is a video produced by The Judicial Branch of California. It challenges viewers to examine the hidden factors that influence their decisions, exploring both the neuroscience and psychology behind the choices we make. (This is just one of many excellent videos in the California Courts Video Archive, a resource worth exploring.)
The legal profession is changing rapidly. New approaches to the practice of law and the delivery of legal services are desperately needed. Under the leadership of Hilarie Bass, the ABA will strengthen its focus on legal education, legal tech, and the justice gap.