The Equal Justice Conference joins all components of the civil legal aid community to discuss and address issues related to the delivery of legal services to low-income individuals in need of legal assistance. EJC is co-sponsored by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and National Legal Aid & Defender Association.
The EJC is attended by legal service providers like Legal Aid and volunteer lawyer services as well as pro bono attorneys, court staff and judges. You will also find law librarians. This year I was privileged to have been asked to present with Jenny Silbiger, the State Librarian of Hawaii. With Sara Witman, a firm librarian with Gordon Feinblatt LLC, we sought to demonstrate:
— how partnering with libraries can effectively increase awareness of and participation in meaningful access to justice programming
— how to identify and use “big firm” resources, that is, know how to access sophisticated research tools for little or no cost
— that libraries are in a unique position to make the judicial system more user-friendly and accessible to self-represented litigants.
You can check it out – slides and handout – in the EJC Dropbox. (Our program can be found there under the title “At Your Service: Partnering with Libraries to Maximize Resources” but was in the program as “Check It Out: Partnering with Libraries to Maximize Resources.”)
We were excited to see the interest from courts and legal service programs in partnering with libraries to expand program reach. (We were glad to meet Pennsylvania law librarian, Marrette Pearsall, too.) In addition to learning about the advantages of partnering with libraries, attendees were also given the opportunity to see how law librarians support their work through legal research assistance.
When I first attended EJC, we would sometimes get a perplexed look and asked why we would be at the conference. Now, when we get to know other attendees, we are more likely to be told about a library program or asked if we know “their” law librarian.
The EJC programming was great and I had no trouble finding sessions of interest to attend. Topics included the use of data to improve and support programs, delivery of brief services, communication, mapping and the future of pro bono. Just as valuable is the opportunity to meet the many people from all over the country involved in providing access to justice. It is inspiring to see all that can be done.