Over the past few weeks, we have seen the world raise important discussions on the systemic racism that is pervasive in our society, and it’s clear that the legal industry has an instrumental role to play in affecting real, lasting change.
Now, as always, increased access to justice in our societies is absolutely crucial. Many of our most vulnerable populations—those who have real and pressing legal issues—do not have access to legal services, or true access to justice. We need to create a more equitable and accessible justice system for all.
Over the past 10 years, we have been inspired by some of the ways our customers are increasing access to justice. There’s The California Innocence Project, which provides free legal services to wrongfully convicted people in California, and Root and Rebound, which restores power and resources to the families and communities most harmed by mass incarceration through legal advocacy, public education, policy reform and litigation.
And of course, there’s the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), headed by the inimitable Bryan Stevenson. EJI works to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenge racial and economic injustice, and to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.
But beyond the amazing social justice work these organizations are doing, what we all do every day matters. We have a responsibility to change the world around us, with our choices, our actions, and our words. There are many ways to increase access to justice, and all of us in the legal industry owe it to the vulnerable and marginalized in our society to come up with better solutions. Increasing access to justice isn’t just about pro bono work (though this work is incredibly important). It’s about innovating the way we deliver legal services—and increasing accessibility by designing truly client-centered experiences.
At Clio, our mission is to transform the practice of law, for good, and increasing access to justice is a major component of that. Clio fundamentally believes that equity and justice are critical pillars of the legal and judicial system and we are committed to using our platform to advocate for change. In light of that, we’ve had some incredible conversations with close friends, lawyers, and advocates on Clio’s Daily Matters podcast, and I encourage you to listen to them below:
- Episode 51: Attorney at Law Leslie Ginzel, Chief of Holistic Services at the Harris County Public Defender’s Office in Houston, Texas, gives an open and honest interview about the sobering state of America’s justice system.
- Episode 52: ACLU of Ohio Director of Equity and Inclusion C. Raphael Davis-Williams speaks powerfully about systemic racism, police misconduct, and “the uniqueness of being black in America.”
- Episode 53: Tiffany Graves, Pro Bono Counsel at a large southern law firm and the former Executive Director of the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, talks about how systemic inequities affect minority groups on a daily basis, and about how pro bono services and access to justice efforts can make a difference.
- Episode 54: André Robert Lee, a film director, producer, professor, and speaker with the Diversity & Inclusion company Point Made Learning who has devoted his life’s work to fighting injustice, talks about ways that law firms, legal associations, and firm leaders can create positive change.
- Episode 55: Andrea Alexander, a New York City-based attorney, talks about the challenges facing black Americans in the workforce and what law firms, companies, and individuals need to start doing to initiate true progress
We’ll continue to have conversations about the state of our justice system, access to legal services, and how these can be improved as we move forward together as an industry. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts to hear more.
These are difficult times, but we have an opportunity, now, to reshape the world around us and design a future where access to justice is a reality for all. As Sonya Renee Taylor puts it:
We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.
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