The Access to Justice "Tripod".

AuthorTanner, Michael G.

Across the country, including here in Florida, access to justice continues to be a focus of state bars, legal academics, and the courts. But it's often difficult to follow the discussions, in part because of the wide variety of current and proposed solutions to addressing the challenge of making legal services more available to our citizens.

If you're like me, you appreciate a good metaphor as a useful tool for conceptualizing ideas. So, think about the access to justice challenge as a tripod. A tripod has three legs, each of which carries a part of the load.

One "leg" of the access to justice tripod is the technology leg. This includes efforts to enable lawyers to better use technology, arguably enabling lawyers to lower the cost of their services to clients. The many online practice management platforms and tools to assist with remote depositions and virtual court proceedings now available are examples of this. Another aspect of the technology leg are the efforts to provide greater automation to our court operating systems, enabling pro se litigants to more easily and effectively represent themselves. One example of this is the DIY (Do It Yourself) Florida online platform, which was developed by the Judicial Management Council and is now operated by the Office of State Courts Administrator. DIY Florida assists self-represented litigants in completing and filing pleadings for landlord/tenant matters, small civil monetary claims, and interpersonal violence matters. Other subject areas are expected to be included soon. There are also online dispute resolution platforms now in use in two Florida circuits. In the 11th Circuit, a civil traffic defendant may now resolve a citation through online negotiation with a state hearing officer. A Ninth Circuit platform allows parties to civil monetary claims of$8,000 or less to resolve their dispute through online negotiation. Yet another initiative within this technology leg is the Board of Governors COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery Task Force's exploration of an online platform for the complete management and resolution of civil claims of $1,000 or less. And the most recent example within this technology leg is the Supreme Court's administrative order on September 20, 2021, establishing a Workgroup on Access to Justice and tasking the workgroup with identifying strategies to increase pro se litigants' use of electronic filing and remote technology in court proceedings.

The second leg of the access tripod is...

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