The ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services conducted a two-year study to investigate the current state of legal practice and access to justice in the the United States. The recently-published report based on their investigation made many recommendations for advancing the ABA's initiatives in the coming years. Improving the delivery of legal services and facilitating broader engagement with the justice system are chief among them. Establishing a Center for Innovation is an important step in achieving these goals.
Announced just weeks ago, the Center for Innovation will be housed at ABA headquarters in Chicago. The Center's first initiative -- to assist with a court-annexed online dispute resolution pilot project in New York -- is already in the works. Other projects that foster innovation in the delivery of legal services or lower the barriers to justice for disadvantaged groups will be developed over time. More broadly, the Center will serve as a home base for original and inventive ideas about how to approach and expand access to legal services. It will also be a resource for ABA members, where a fellowship program will facilitate collaboration with professionals in other fields. These opportunities for cross-pollination with adjacent industries, such as technology, design, and entrepreneurship, will allow ABA members to break new ground in the delivery of, and access to, legal services.
The legal field is rapidly changing. Keeping current in the age of artificial intelligence, big data, and technology assisted review is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. With the Center for Innovation, the American Bar Association is boldly embracing this moment, forging new ways of practicing law and delivering legal services. This kind of progressive and optimistic approach to more effectively meeting the needs of those who engage with the legal system is consistent with our philosophy at the Harris County Law Library where open and equal access to justice for all is our goal. Like the ABA, we see innovation and information as the keys to achieving this goal.