Reporting from the Civil Justice Strategies Task Force meeting held this week in Los Angeles. Toward the end of another day of testimony about past attempts at fairly meting out access to justice, something happened.
To the delight of a few and the consternation of others, we were suddenly immersed in the story of how a start-up nonprofit became a multi-billion dollar success; how abstract design theories and product creation tools can work to benefit the legal consumer; and finally how an online dispute resolution web site may be opening the door to the next wave of legal aid. We are looking at the future and it is happening now — with creative uses of technology and business savvy to raise private funds and save the world.
Now is when this Task Force has to take a deep collective gulp of air and risk diving deeper than ever before into the unknowable, murky depths of access to justice possibilities.
As with any group responsible for coming up with new ideas, there must be a mix of people with experience in the topic and people new to the scene and eager to make change. This is not a generational divide between the old and the young — this mix transcends any gender, age, or any other kind of visible difference. Any kind of change group must be filled with people who are willing to take a creative challenge and experiment. They cannot be closed minded to change. That spells death to progress.
On the side to the good, we have an amazing amount of talent in the room. Brainpower. Experience. Good hearts. Hard workers.
To the bad, however, lawyers are not known to be the most creative people in the world. Just saying.
This is where we find out if the right people are in the room, whether there will be enough of a spark, a catalyst, to get these folks going in a creative trajectory. I worry about that. I worry about that because I saw people shaking their heads wondering “what the hell was that?” — when those are the people who should be moving us forward toward the NextBigThing in equal access to justice.
I know that I am ready to take the plunge and get soaked. I will report back about the rest of the task force next time.