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Equal Justice Conference 2017

Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 10, 2017

EJC Collage

TOP: Jenny and Joanie with Steve Scudder MID: Sara, Joanie, Jenny and Marrette

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.

Posted in Conferences, Equal Justice Conference, lawlibrary, Pro Bono | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

SRLN Pre-Conference at EJC 2014: Report of the SCCLL Incoming Chair

Posted by Joan Bellistri on July 10, 2014

Maryruth Storer, the incoming chair of the  State Court and County Law Library Special Interest Section of the American Association of  Law Libraries, wrote an excellent account of the Self Represented Litigation Network (SRLN) pre-conference at the Equal Justice Conference.

Her article, A Newbie at the Equal Justice Conference, was published in the SCCLL News (Vol. 40, #2, Summer 2014) on page 10.

 

 

 

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EJC 2014: A Law Librarian’s Report

Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 5, 2014

The ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference has ended and I am back at work.  The EJC is a joint effort of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA). The EJC provided a great forum in which to learn from  interesting programming and from getting to know others whose work involves providing legal services to those who cannot afford legal help. I hoped to be able to report on a daily basis but found little time to fit that in.  Here are some of the highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in EJC2014, lawlibrary, Legal Technology, Pro Bono, Self Represented | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Survey of Law Library Services to Self-Represented Litigants: Reporting from the Equal Justice Conference in Portland

Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 1, 2014

I am the AALL Representative to the Self Represented Litigation Network or the SRLN.  Over the last year I have been working with other members of the SRLN Law Librarians’ Working Group,  analyzing the results of the “Survey of Law Library Programs for Self Represented Litigants, including Self-Help Centers.”  The survey task force, also members of AALL State, Court and County Law Library Special Interest Section,  included Marnie Warner, Sara Galligan, and Charley Dyer.

Today I  reported on the survey at the SRLN pre-conference workshop at the Equal Justice Conference in Portland.

Jessican Van Buren, chair of the SRLN  Law Librarians’ Working Group, has posted the report, survey results and other supporting documents at SelfHelpSupport:  http://www.selfhelpsupport.org/surveys/ .

The survey shows how law libraries of all types serve the needs of the self-represented litigants.  Law Libraries serve the SRL by providing the more traditional law library services of research assistance, use of online databases and referrals.  They also provide services designed especially for the SRL such as websites, publications and forms.  Law libraries also work with self-help centers but the results show that law libraries can also provide the self-help center in the library or house a self-help center managed by another organization.

The report can act as guide for those seeking to develop programs for service to the SRL.  We hope that the information will be of value to not only the law library community but to the courts, the bar, legal services providers, public libraries and access to justice organizations involved in service to the self-represented litigant.

 

 

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CTC2011 – Wrap Up, Technology = Change

Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 11, 2011

On the last day of the conference I attended a program, “Court Technology on a Tight Budget,”  in the CLCT or the Center for Legal Court Technology, formerly Courtroom 21, courtroom.  A technologically equipped courtroom was on the stage while Martin E. Gruen, Deputy Director of  CLCT, provided advice on meeting the constant demand for new technology with a limited budget.  It is important to plan and evaluate the plan.  Some considerations would be to make sure that the need is understood and that the results will be achieved.  He then illustrated acquisitions of evidence presentation equipment as an example.

New Horizons: Cloud Computing” defined “the cloud” and discussed the benefits and risks of cloud computing.  There is no way to avoid the cloud as it is the “new normal.”  Thomas Kooy,Vice President, Product Development, PDSG/OpenCDX  thought the definition to be “nebulous'” but settled on “democratized distributed computing.”  In the cloud can be found SaaS or Software as Service, PaaS or Platform as Service, and IaaS, Infrastructure as Service.  The term “cloud” was said to come from IT architecture drawings that would depict these services as a cloud.  The benefits include the ability to get something big with little management resources.  Alan Carlson, Chief Executive Officer, Orange County Superior Court,  began with outlining considerations that must be made before going to the cloud: performance, safety and access.  Timely access, response time and pricing all have an effect on performance.  Safety concerns are loss of data and backup abilities, corruption and hacking, location of the data (i.e., are there laws that require it be in the state or country?), and access to data when the contract ends. Access concerns include will the provider expect to share the data, who controls the discarded data and the consideration that third party management of data could lead to the data being subpoenaed.  Iveta Toplova,  Architect, Microsoft and a member of the IJIS Institute Technical Advisory Committee, stressed that standards for the cloud are critical for security, portability and interoperability.

With the cloud IT can shift focus from the physical maintenance to business services.  This statement lead me to the next program, “Transitioning from an IT Shop to a Technology Services Shop.”  In this program I almost felt as though I was spying on the IT world.  Here the speakers spoke of the trials and tribulations of the IT department in the way that librarians might talk about problem patrons.  It was good to get some insight to issues of concern to the IT profession.  They spoke of the problem of being considered the place for the answers on the workings of anything with a cord or wire.  The computerization of so many building functions has even led to IT controlling  HVAC systems.  But I still found that their concerns were still much the same as those of the librarian profession and, I am sure, most other professions.  The importance of  establishing policies and procedures to define the scope of  IT was stressed.  They discussed strategic planning, core competencies, quality and customer service.

Overall, I saw a common thread in the programs I attended. The same question was asked: What effect will the introduction of new technology have on existing court departments?  What will happen to employees in the clerk’s office when there is no more paper to process?  What will IT do when everything moves to the cloud?  Questions not unlike, “who needs a library when everything is online?”  And just as the introduction of online legal material has not meant the end of the law library, e-filing will not eliminate the need for the clerk’s office or the move to the cloud will not eliminate the need for IT.  The function of law libraries, the clerk’s office and IT are not changing but the  how and what of those departments is.  Clerk’s will still manage filing but through an e-filing system.  One speaker suggested that the clerk of the future may require more skills than before.  The programs I attended on the cloud and IT suggested that IT would have fewer physical “boxes” to maintain and would be able to concentrate on service.  As a law librarian of over 30 years, I have experienced the changes that technology has brought to the library world.  Still the function of the library in providing access to legal information has remained the same.  There are just more ways to access and deliver that legal information.  Librarians are still essential in getting to the needed legal information no matter what the format.  Technology may be the key in the ability of courts to do more with less as the economy is insisting.

I would recommend the Court Technology Conference to all those involved in the workings of the courts especially to other law librarians.  I can say that I was able to find programs of interest to me in terms of the law library and in terms of learning more about other court functions. CTC2013 will be held in Baltimore, September 17 – 19, and I look forward to seeing everyone there.

Posted in Conferences, CTC2011, lawlibrary, Legal Technology | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

CTC2011 – Day 2, A look at the exhibit hall

Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 6, 2011

Judge Steven Leitman of Miami-Dade County Florida delivered this morning’s keynote: “Ending the Revolving Door of Justice: How Technology Helped One Judge Reengineer His Court.”  Judge Leitman’s concern that he was unable to really do anything for the mentally ill in his court drove him to find a solution to this national problem.  He described cases involving the mentally ill charged with crimes who could be sentenced to jail but could not be involuntarily hospitalized by the court.  He used technology to gather data and to create diversion programs in partnership with other entities affected.  NCSC has already made his presentation materials available online.

After the keynote, programming ceased for the opening of the exhibit hall.  I visited a variety of vendors.  Lexis was demonstrating its ebooks and expects an application for public law libraries that would allow e-lending.  There were vendors for case management, e-filing, systems for delivery of court video and audio recordings, and  e-signing. There was a vendor that could take care of collections for the court and one that demonstrated its virtual meeting place.  Participants could attend a training or meeting via an avatar and sit at a table and view presentations and interact with other participants.  Because Maryland will soon be going to e-filing,  I attended two presentations by the vendor for an overview of the e-filing process and paperless courts.   At the booth I saw demonstrations of the public interface portal as  I was interested in how the public might fare with a new e-filing system.  Courts would have the option to provide interview produced forms.  There was a vendor that offered interactive forms for the SRL that could work with different e-filing systems.

There was time for two afternoon programs.  I decided to check out “E-Everything: The Future of Court Business and Management” after sitting with one of the speakers at lunch.  Tom Clarke of NCSC presented his vision of the future and two directors of court administration offices, Artie Pepin of New Mexico and  Donald Goodnow of  New Hampshire, commented in a panel discussion.  Concerns for self represented litigants were discussed in terms of the need for access with sufficient information. There will be a  need for less staff with a higher skill level as the routine tasks will have been automated.  They talked about outsourcing,  remote workers in the courts and having  judges focus on certain types of cases. The concern that accessing the courts online will remove the personal contact and impression of the court as trusted institution was voiced.

I missed “Social Media and the Courts” but see that the materials are available on the CTC program schedule where you could find materials from most of the presentations now.

The Digital Decision: Incorporating Multi-Media into a Decision” was presented by a judge from New Zealand, David John Harvey,  who had occasion to add a video to one of his opinions.  His digital opinion was digital not just because it was online but because of its digital content.  Adding a video to an opinion presents the problem of how it would work in print.  Judge Harvey provided step-by-step instruction for embedding a video and discussed the concerns of doing so. Concerns discussed included when to add multimedia, preservation, authentication, and access. He also provided a brief history of print opinions, once the new technology and examples of other opinions containing multimedia.

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CTC2011 – Day 1, A Law Librarian’s Summary

Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 5, 2011

If you were in Portland for AALL in 2008, you have an idea of how entertaining the keynote speaker, David Pogue, technology columnist for the New York Times, was this morning.  His speech, “Disruptive Tech: What’s Coming and How It will Change Everything,” will soon be available at the NCSC website’s CTC2011 page  and I recommend it, if only for the songs about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates he performed at the end.  Pogue spoke of cultural shifts resulting from technology in terms of apps/smart phones, web2.0 and the huge generational changes we see now.  He demonstrated some augmented reality apps: one that can produce information such as the location of a subway station based on your location and a view of where you are standing through your phone and an app, word lens, that translates English and Spanish with the  phone’s camera.   He described web2.0 as audience as creators.  He also cited the surprising, to me, results of a study in Nature that found Wikipedia to more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Through technology we now have a generation who expect everything in real-time and on demand and have little regard for privacy.  These are just some of the concepts discussed.

I couldn’t resist David Pogue’s session that followed his keynote, “The Best Mobile Apps.”  We saw apps that were fun and useful.  Songify will convert plain speech to song.  There are travel apps such as JetLagRX  that helps you adapt to a new time zone and Flight Track Pro that can tell the status of your flight. There is a speech recognition app (Dragon Dictation) that works great and is free and an app that can be used as a remote presentation slide changer (Keynote Remote).  I have always been reluctant to download apps to my phone but when asked about security issues David Pogue said he doesn’t really worry.  I just might try some of the apps he recommended.

“Abandoning Law Reports For Official Digital Case Law” described Arkansas’ decision to make the digital court opinions the official in 2009.  Professor Peter Martin of Cornell and co-founder of the Cornell’s LII was reassuring when he said that if UELMA were to be enacted in Arkansas the provisions for authentication, preservation and access would already be met.  Arkansas has also done away with the idea of published and unpublished decisions.  All are “published” now.  Arkansas has also adopted its own vendor neutral citation system based on the clerk’s numbering system.  Professor Martin discussed the  benefits of digital opinions in terms of cost savings, timeliness and access.  There were some interesting questions and discussion afterwards.  Why is authentication important and can’t we just trust that whatever is available on Westlaw or Lexis is authentic?  I think Professor Martin made a good case for authentication, even if it was just to assure the public.  There were a number of comments on the difficulty of coming up with a vendor neutral citation system. Another asked, ” Won’t this mean the end of physical space for law libraries?”  I was sitting next to him and must have looked horrified.  Professor Martin pointed out there are other materials  of value such as treatises in a law library other than case law that might still be preferable in print.  I was able to mention that AALL had developed a Universal Citation System that might be helpful and that law libraries might have changed the formats of legal information they provide, how they provide it and the space that they need but still provide an essential service in the court.

“Innovations in Serving Self-Help Court Users: Montana and California”  consisted of an introduction by  Claudia Johnson of LawHelp Interactive, Pro Bono Net, on the development of interactive forms using interviews for document creation with HotDocs and descriptions of different models used for serving self represented litigants.  In California, Los Angeles is able to serve  large numbers of family self represented litigants through work shops and interactive interview forms and San Bernardino County uses are more of  a one-on-one method.  However, by partnering with the San Bernardino County Law Library they have been able to have remote broadcasts using library space and technology.  Montana,  a large state with limited IT resources, has developed kiosks with options of live help or online resources for the user.  This program is in partnership with the Montana State Law Library,  Montana courthouses and public libraries. It was good to hear that law libraries are considered as important elements in providing court services.

I am afraid that the  program, “E-Filing and Web Services in a Nutshell,” was more technical than I expected.  However, the need for standardization was stressed as it can reduce costs and streamline sharing among court entities.

The day ended with a reception for the opening of the exhibit hall.  I visited just a few vendors this evening.  One that  provides systems for the video recording of court proceedings and a court management system vendor.  Probono.net is exhibiting this year, too.  I didn’t see the familiar West and Lexis until the reception was over and that was because they have a much smaller booth at this conference compared to AALL.

The conference is going well but I have to say I am disappointed in the weather.  I  expected sunny weather but it looks like clouds and rain for the rest of the week.

Posted in Conferences, CTC2011, lawlibrary, Legal Technology, UELMA | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

CTC2011 – A Law Librarian’s Report

Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 3, 2011

As the AALL Representative to the National Center for State Courts, I am attending the Court Technology Conference (CTC2011) in Long Beach, California.  The conference begins tomorrow and I will again report on my experiences here.

To start the conference I am looking forward to keynote Speaker, David Pogue, New York Times technology reviewer.  Programs that I am interested in are one on “Best Mobile Apps” with David Pogue right after he speaks or one at the same time on the use of open source software used by Arizona’s Judicial Branch to revamp their website.  Later I will attend  “Abandoning Law Reports for Official Digital Case Law”  and wonder whether they will talk about authentication, preservation and permanent public access. “Innovations in Serving Self-Help Court Users” is always a topic of concern for court librarians and of interest.  Maryland courts are on the way to implementing e-filing so it makes sense to end the day with “E-Filing and Web Services in a Nutshell.”  The Exhibit Hall will open in the evening with a reception.  It will be interesting to see the different types of vendors though I will see the familiar Lexis and Westlaw, too.

Posted in Conferences, CTC2011, lawlibrary, Legal Technology | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Emergency Preparedness for Librarians

Posted by Joan Bellistri on February 25, 2011

The  University of Maryland Health Sciences and Human Services Library offered a program last fall, Connections: Disaster Preparedness for Librarians and Emergency Management Personnel, that was attended by librarians from all types of  libraries, including Maryland court law libraries.  The program concentrated not only what libraries should do in the event of an emergency or disaster to protect the library and continue services but the services the library can provide to assist responders and survivors during such an event.

The information from the program is still available online and is worth reviewing now.

Agenda: http://www.hshsl.umaryland.edu/disaster/index.php/agenda/

Speakers with links to handouts and presentations:  http://www.hshsl.umaryland.edu/disaster/index.php/speakers/

Resources: http://www.hshsl.umaryland.edu/disaster/index.php/resources/

Speakers, Greta Marlatt and Jodi Stiles, of  the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security    were able to review the many resources available on the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL).  Librarians are encouraged to register for free access to the site @  http://www.chds.us/

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AALL Annual Meeting Roundup: WEB 2.0 and Pro Bono

Posted by Joan Bellistri on December 2, 2010

I was able to highlight the library’s wiki as a co-presenter at the LISP sponsored program, “A Web 2.0 Collaboration: Mapping a Path for Pro Bono Partnerships.”  I created the AACPLL wiki in order to more easily share information on Pro Bono opportunities and referrals with the Anne Arundel Pro Bono Committee.  The wiki became a great place for providing links to information resources for attorney volunteers in the “Ask a Lawyer” program.  The wiki is also used in the administration of the “Ask a Lawyer” program.  Schedules, PR materials and a chart of pro bono statistics can be found there.  It has been used by the Pro Bono Committee to collaborate on press releases and committee goal statements.

My portion of the program concentrated on explaining just what a wiki is  (a collaborative, easy to use website) and how a wiki works.  The presentation slides and program handouts are available at this Google site: https://sites.google.com/site/lispprog2010/.

Two private law librarians from Minnesota, Jennifer Doyle and Trudi Busch, demonstrated the Volunteer Librarians Coalition wiki.  This wiki was created to “to facilitate the access to information needed by the Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) attorneys in representing economically disadvantaged people with legal problems.”  It is truly a collaborative project with a group of law librarians managing the content for use by pro bono attorneys.  Librarians are able to provide research services and Westlaw access is also available for certain volunteer attorneys through the wiki.

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