The ABA Center for Innovation is a place for collaborative and creative thinking about transforming the justice system in the United States. The intersection of law and technology affords the profession an opportunity to reshape legal services for the 21st century. The unique position of the ABA allows for multi-disciplinary approaches to test, examine and measure new ways to address old problems.
Helping Homeowners Obtain Flood Assistance
When the historic floods struck Baton Rouge in 2016, thousands of homes were ravaged. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) placed 4,300 families in hotels across 16 states.
As the water subsided, many found it difficult to begin repairing their homes. In Louisiana, properties are often passed from generation to generation without updating the title. And, documentation proving home ownership is required for FEMA disaster assistance.
An estimated 2,500 homeowners, unable to legally prove ownership, were denied financial aid.
The Center for Innovation and Stanford Law School developed Flood Proof, a mobile app to help these flood victims gather the necessary documents to establish home ownership and complete their FEMA submissions. The app also directs them to appropriate legal services, based on their income qualifications.
A Flood Proof website also contains basic information on documentation and how to access assistance.
Rapid Response to Travel Ban
In response to the January 2017 presidential executive order limiting immigration from seven countries, the Center partnered with the American Immigration Lawyers Association to create ImmigrationJustice.us, a portal to harness the energy of legal professionals who wish to assist immigrants pro bono.
Built and launched in less than 48 hours, the website allows volunteers to list their skills, experience, and preferences for various support roles and provides information on training and volunteer opportunities.
The site is a prime example of the Center for Innovation’s efforts to accelerate legal technology to serve those in need.
First Fellows Selected for Legal Technology Incubator
The Center is launching its Fellows program to enhance legal services and improve access to justice. There are two types of fellows:
Innovation Fellows: These innovators are taking a 9- to 12-week sabbatical to work on projects to improve the legal sector and practice of law. There is no stipend for this fellowship, but the ABA is seeking sponsorships for financial assistance. Projects fall within a broad category: if it touches the justice system, it is ripe for intervention and innovation.
NextGen Fellows: A select group of recent law school graduates are spending a year in-residence at the ABA headquarters in Chicago. These fellows will receive a salary of $45,000, along with benefits, during their time in the program. Their charge is to develop and launch legal technology solutions to address critical needs in the justice system. The first cohort of fellows will begin August 1 and complete their work by July 31, 2018.