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Claudia Johnson L’97 and Miguel Willis on the Future of Law, Technology, and Access to Legal Services

Claudia Johnson L’97

Law 2030 Podcast - Season 2 | Episode 10

Claudia Johnson L'97 Claudia Johnson L’97 has been focused on building the continuum of legal care and service delivery models for low income communities since she graduated from Penn Carey Law School. She’s currently a program manager with Pro Bono Net, where she led the adoption of online forms, making them a go-to tool for courts and nonprofits that need to serve and support those without attorneys. She is also a board member for the Future of the Profession Initiative.

Miguel Willis is The Future of the Profession Initiative’s first Innovator in Residence. He also serves as Executive Director of the Access to Justice Tech Fellows Program. Miguel holds a political science degree from Howard University and a JD from Seattle University School of Law. His entrepreneurial spirit, drive to innovate, and proximal experiences of growing up in poverty shape his lens to effectuate positive impact.

On this episode, they discuss how private sector leaders can partner with public interest organizations to scale access to legal services, why leadership requires a critical look at who populates the decision-making table, and why law students provide our best hope for transforming how the profession delivers its services.

Our Key Takeaways From This Episode

New students offer fresh perspectives that can change the way even seasoned practitioners think about problem solving.

Claudia mentioned the project a Penn Carey law student designed in her class that creates more access for neurodiverse populations. The project aims to help a population that even those who have focused on diversity and inclusion have not traditionally considered. In this way, different generations can co-design innovations that respond to needs seasoned pros may not have considered.

Innovation certainly encompasses technology, but it’s much broader than that.

Miguel described what inspired him to launch the Access to Justice Tech Fellowship program. While the program’s focus is on technology, the project itself is an educational response to a deficit Miguel saw in opportunities for law students across different schools.

The private sector has an important role to play in closing the access to justice gap.

As Claudia mentioned, as technology accelerates and cyber threats grow, under resourced nonprofits need the partnership of organizations with access to robust technology and resources that protect consumers who rely on that tech as a lifeline to critical services.

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Full Episode Transcript

Jennifer: Miguel Willis and Claudia Johnson, what makes you optimistic about the future of the legal profession?

Miguel Willis: Students, their ability to just reimagine how services should be delivered, how to improve the law, how to take on challenging any engaging issues head on. I’m really excited for this next generation of lawyers.

Claudia Johnson: I’m really excited to see that law students are not defining their legal career in the same way that we did when I graduated. They’re really looking at who am I going to be as a human being with this wonderful, powerful education, this incredible analytical ability, fabulous ability ready to advocate and write? Who am I going to be in my career, and who am I going to be in 5, 10, 15, 20 years, and how am I going to be an agent of good and change and a better world, because change is who we are.

Jennifer Leonard: Hi everyone, I’m Jennifer Leonard, chief innovation officer at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. As an alum of the law school who practiced law for a decade in private sector and government practices, I realized there are so many ways we lawyers can better serve our clients. And now, through the Future of the Profession Initiative, my colleagues and I focus all our energy on thinking about how to do just that. Our profession is full of bright, engaged lawyers working at the highest levels, but we frustrate many of those we want to serve because of the way we’ve structured, the practice of law in our legal systems. And students coming to law school today need new skills that turbocharge their legal education so that they can navigate the dynamic landscape that lies ahead.

To develop fresh approaches to the way we educate lawyers and serve our client,. We need to open up the conversation, so on this podcast we’ll hear from experts working to change the legal profession, and leaders who’ve developed creative solutions to complex problems in other fields. We’ll also discuss how the law school is producing the next generation of lawyers, a generation that will create new ways to put the people they serve at the center of everything they do. There’s so much to do, so let’s get started.

Today I’m excited to welcome two of our friendliest contributors to the Future of the Profession Initiative, Claudia Johnson and Miguel Willis. Claudia has been focused on building the continuum of legal care and service delivery models for low income communities since she graduated from Penn Carey Law School in 1997. She’s currently a program manager with Pro Bono Net, where she led the adoption of online forms, making them a go-to tool for courts and nonprofits that need to serve and support those without attorneys. Claudia is also one of our most active board members for the Future of the Profession Initiative.

And joining Claudia today is Miguel Willis. Miguel is our first innovator in residence at the law school’s Future of the Profession Initiative. He also serves as executive director of the Access to Justice Tech Fellows Program. Miguel holds a political science degree from Howard University and a JD from Seattle University School of Law, his entrepreneurial spirit, drive to innovate, and proximal experiences of growing up in poverty shape his lens to effectuate positive impact.

On this episode, we’ll discuss how private sector leaders can partner with public interest organizations to scale access to legal services, why leadership requires a critical look at who populates the decision making table, and why law students provide our best hope for transforming how we envision in the way the profession delivers its services. Here’s my conversation with Claudia Johnson and Miguel Willis.

Jennifer: Miguel and Claudia, welcome to the podcast. Just to let the audience get to know a little bit more about you, I’d love to start with a few interesting non-professional facts about you. And Miguel I’m going to start with you. You love to travel. I know both of you love to travel, but when you travel and you go to different cities, you like to seek out opportunities to play chess with people you don’t know. You say that through doing that, you’ve met some really interesting people. Could you share a story, maybe an anecdote about somebody you’ve met seeking out a game of chess?

Miguel: This I think started when I was down in New Orleans and if you’re walking in right off of Bourbon [Street], you see just crowds of people and there are folks outside just playing chess. So I love the fact of kind of meeting strangers, sparking conversations over a game of chess and finding people who can just whip my butt and also teach me new things. I’ve grown a friendship with several other people in various cities and if anyone’s looking for a place in a city I’m happy to refer.

Jennifer: That’s great. I love that. Claudia, you’ve lived in seventeen different cities, eight different states and five different countries. I know you plan to continue traveling and putting down roots at least temporarily in some new places. But I’d also like to ask you about a younger Claudia. When you were a child, you used to stutter.

And over time you by and large overcame the stutter, but you talked about how it’s affected you professionally. Could you share a little bit about that?

Claudia: Yeah, I still stutter sometimes when I’m nervous, particularly if I’m talking to a big crowd. English is not my first language is my third language. So that adds to the cognitive load sometimes in terms of stress and managing all of that. So having been a stutterer as an early child, it just made me really patient in terms of not rushing to think that I know the conclusion of somebody’s sentence. And when you stutter, you don’t like for people to finish your sentences. People tend to do that because they’re not aware. They’re not self aware of what they’re doing. Having been in the other side. I am very self-aware of that. So I just kind of chill and listen, and let people take their time because you never know what their communication is going to end up being.

Jennifer: Thank you for sharing that. I think the connection between both of you and you’re such lovely people and such great collaborators, but it sounds like from the very early days of your lives, you’ve taken experiences that have been challenging and you’re now infusing those experiences into your work and trying to create a brighter future for the people that we serve and the students who are going into the legal profession.

With that I’d love to turn to talk about some of the work that you’re doing with our students at Penn Carey Law School. And you teach together a course called Law, Technology, and Access to Justice. And I’m going to start with Miguel. Miguel, can you talk a little bit about what the focus of the course is? What is the goal of the course?

Miguel: The goal of the course is to educate students on the varied opportunities to leverage technology and increasing access to justice, while also making them aware of the challenges that technology poses to harm communities, especially vulnerable communities. And looking at that through a lens of equity, race, society. And so the students, they form teams throughout the semester. They’re challenged with developing a solution to address a specific and concrete legal access problem. They also participate in critical reflections on a topic that kind of centers their passion from some of the materials that we discuss in class.

Jennifer: Claudia, I know you’re reaching the end of the semester and the students are starting to share the ideas that they’ve developed after learning all semester. What ideas stood out to you as innovative and novel solutions that you were excited to see the students generate?

Claudia: All of this students blew me away. We just had presentations yesterday. The one that conceptually from a real area that has not been looked at in terms of technology and access to justice is this project focused on building technology that helps people with cognitive disabilities or cognitive barriers have better access to access to justice tech. That’s an area that I can say from being in access to justice tech since 2004, it’s not an area besides paying attention to blindness and the traditional ADA WCAG standards like all about screen readers and visual impairments, and our concept of how do we design technology that help people who have conditions like ataxia, or conditions with memory or conditions with either ADHD, anxiety, or even dyslexia. How do we design technology that can actually help overcome that?

And so our student presented really clearly kind of like one, we have to educate the legal aid community, the pro bono community, and then the technology community, so that then we can innovate and create technology that will help with these memory loss issues. With the anxiety of sitting in front of a screen, asking you a question that you have to type into it and designing technology that will be able to provide information in a way that is understandable by folks that don’t necessarily grab onto text, and being maybe a little bit more graphical and a little bit more empathic in how we present legal information.

Jennifer: That’s a really cool project. I love that as an example, too, of where you both, of course, and your colleagues who come to visit the class are teaching the students, but the students are also teaching us about things that maybe those of us who have been experienced for a while haven’t even really considered. So I love that example. The other reason I love that example, Claudia, I was just having a conversation yesterday with our mutual colleague, Jim Sandman, and we were talking about this idea of technology not being self executing.

So it really requires a blend of understanding the capacity of the technology, but also to your point, Claudia, of educating public interest attorneys or attorneys generally, court systems, anybody who’s involved in access to justice or legal services and change management within organizations to sort of shift the culture. I can imagine that there might be resistance to implementing something that seems like a big lift. I’m wondering Claudia, in particular, based on your vast experience, trying to overhaul the way that we deliver services, is that your impression too, that the two have to go hand in hand? The technology adoption and the education about the necessity and the organizational change management

Claudia: Absolutely technology alone is not like Field of Dreams, it’s not build it and they will come. You know what I mean? The movie was great, but it doesn’t happen in reality with technology, and the technology has to keep changing based on not just how technology is changing. More capacity, better design, more research, more empirically based technology design, but also on the communities that you’re trying to reach. And as we improve in being empathetic and centering around communities, particularly ones we center about the communities that we have completely ignored and left out, the technology will get better, but the users and the providers and the substantive experts have to also understand the needs of those communities.

I think that we’re getting to the point where we finally will have consensus that technology is not value neutral. And in my case, since I’ve dedicated my life to access to justice and really changing the world to really reflect the democracy that we are, we will have eventually technology that when you look at it, you’re going to know, okay, this technology cares about people that don’t speak a language. That this has never been an English only country.

And it provides access to multiple languages in multiple communities. It cares about people that have memory issues because it’s providing a tool that will help them give them wait points as they manage on their own, it cares about people that have reading or difficulties with language formation, because when you click and you say, I need a pictorial explanation, the technology, the artificial intelligent will give them the graphical interfaces that they need based on what they request.

So I’m very excited about the future as we include communities that we have over-policed or stigmatized and under-invested on, because I think that’s where technology and justice, we create the biggest gain for the whole society, not just the communities that were left out, that now we’re bringing in.

Jennifer: Another project that also gives life to new opportunities, new ways of thinking is the Access to Justice Tech Fellowship program, which is aligned formally with our Future of the Profession Initiative here at the Law School. And Miguel, you founded ATJ Tech Fellows when you were still in law school. Can you tell us the need that you saw and what the purpose is of the program?

Miguel: Yeah. At the time, when traveling to a variety of different other law schools for conferences, being able to see their just vast curriculum of interdisciplinary kind of subjects ranging from technology and data, AI, leveraging and providing opportunities for students to learn at the intersection of those disciplines and justice. I thought we should have something for all law students where they not only could learn about various emerging subjects, but also be provided an experiential opportunity to develop and build solutions to address those problems and improve the legal access to communities.

Jennifer: It’s a great example of a way that even in law school, students can start to create change in the profession where they see deficits or they see opportunities for improvement. Are most of the students that enter the program, Miguel, are they planning to pursue careers in public interest exclusively?

Miguel: No, I think we encourage all students to participate in the program. The skills that you’re learning at Access to Justice Program are translational to whether you’re working in a big firm or working on policy initiatives to shape the future of technology. So we welcome all students. We have some outstanding fellows that have gone and started their own startups, justice tech startups. We have fellows who are consultants, practicing attorneys and in all spaces.

Jennifer: I think that’s great. I mean, I remember being a law student and not really knowing the difference between private sector work and public interest careers. It was a little intimidating because it seemed like a lot of my classmates were either firmly in one camp or the other, and it felt intimidating to try to explore either. I think it’s great that you’re inclusive and opening it up to everybody. Certainly the skills that the students learn are transferable in whatever they decide to do. Right?

Miguel: Yeah, definitely. I think we have a huge focus on bringing communities of students who have been unrepresented in the legal innovation, justice technology landscape to the forefront, and also really building curious thinkers. I think a lot of people have the misconception that you need to have this technical expertise or background to be successful in the program. One of the things that we try to do is deliver learning in a scaffolded approach where you’re receiving knowledge on these various subjects.

But being able to apply that knowledge and skills that you just learned on a real world project, while also being implanted with mentors and a host of community to increase the educational experience. There’s also a really cool co-learning experience through the program where fellows teach each other and are able to provide insight into their projects.

And I look at the program as a catalyst to start and push forward social entrepreneurs, public interest lawyers. I’m really excited and grateful to be at that critical venture when they’re just starting out and coming into law school and may not have it all figured out, but through our network. And that has even expanded through this great partnership with the Future of the Profession Initiative and being able to institutionalize the program in one of the leading law schools in the country.

Jennifer: Well, we’re thrilled to have you aligned with our initiative too, and contributing your perspective and helping us shape all of our projects, Miguel. So thank you so much. And I want to pick up on a thread that you started talking about, about the co-teaching and the co-design, and co-learning because I think historically, maybe one of the places where law school wasn’t as strong, maybe as business school, for example, is teaching the importance of collaboration and positive coaching toward better solutions.

I think it’s reflected in the profession itself with respect to some of the silos that we find ourselves in. And one of the things, as you both know, that we’re trying to do with our initiative is to bring together conversations across different sectors of the legal profession, whether that’s law firms, legal consultants, legal tech entrepreneurs, public interest attorneys, judges, legal educators, and deans.

And it’s not as easy as it might seem to pull together all those different groups to have a unified conversation. But in my opinion, and I think we share this opinion, without this collective effort, we’re not really going to be able to transform what should be a collective endeavor to design a legal system that serves more people and small businesses. So Claudia, I’m going to come back to you and ask you your thoughts on the importance of private sector and public interest partnerships. Is there a role for tech companies to play in these efforts? Is there a role for law firms to play? How can we have sort of a more integrated approach to the work that you are trying to do?

Claudia: I think when I was in policy school, the gold standard of participation from the private sector and the public sector and the nonprofit sector was public private partnerships, between the private sector and the government, or the private sector and a nonprofit. I still believe that we haven’t yet done that as much in depth as we can. And the project that I run is an example of that because we have a very longstanding relation with Abacus, which produces the software HotDocs, which is what my system is on.

For over 10 years, we have managed a discount for the legal nonprofit of 70% for those software products, so that they can use that to create the forms. And this is a longstanding public private relationship. I don’t know if there’s another example in the US of such a longstanding and collaborative partnership.

I think we should be exploring more of that. But aside from that traditional model that comes maybe from the ’80s and ’90s, there are other things that private companies can do. And particularly tech companies. I will start with something that is very much on the forefront of the nation. And President Biden has been talking about, and that is expertise in cyber security. The Chronicle of Philanthropy had a very sharp article, kind of asking whether nonprofits should be in technology because the resources to fend off against the tax and to recover from an attack can be substantial. And nonprofits generally don’t have the budgets that large technology companies or VC funded technology companies have.

I think that’s an area where private technology companies could partner with nonprofits and share that expertise with nonprofits that are in the tech space, because the worst part of an attack or being victim of an attack is losing the service. So that’s an area where I think there will be more energy put into sharing that with the nonprofit sector and being there for that sector, if something happens.

The other thing, for example, that has happened in the past two years is I’ve seen groups like Clio and LawDroid and LegalZoom, all of them tech companies in the tech legal space, get together to put this very exciting series of awards that’s going on its third year. It’s called the Legal Technology Awards, where they have categories for courts and for innovators and for actual software producers in the nonprofit sector collaboration awards.

So we have multiple for profit, private technology software groups that came together to create this national award called the legal tech awards. That then recognizes the good work of people in government, like courts, people in nonprofits. And I think I’m a carrot lady. I love incentives. I love to celebrate. I like to be optimistic and joyous. And what better than an award to a court that’s been doing something incredible for the self-represented litigants.

Coming together to kind of create this collaborative of awards, it could be training, it could be getting together to do hackathons. Miguel did a lot of the initial work in the country with Social Justice Hackathons. What we’re really lacking is national infrastructure, nobody’s funding national of infrastructure.

Hopefully there can be a national infrastructure that this resource staff communities can reach to, to bring the power of technology and to bring the power of skill, and to bring the power of innovation.

So really, I think there’s a lot that we can continue to do and experiment, but just really want everybody to think in nontraditional ways.

Jennifer: I would definitely agree, knowing you, Claudia, that you’re a carrot lady and I think incentives are really key to driving change and figuring out why the incentives are not aligned well to develop more partnerships. I think you’re right about the awards helping courts and legal services organizations or legal aid organizations. But I think they’re equally valuable, maybe more valuable to the firms who are trying to distinguish themselves from one another, in a war for talent, where new emerging law school graduates really want to go to firms that put their money where their mouths are with respect to social equity, racial equity, legal services, and access to justice. So I hope to see more of that in the years ahead.

I would love to shift a little bit to ask, and I’m going to come over to you, Miguel, because you’ve been running your Access to Justice Tech Fellows program for six years. And you have built a real network of people who are scaling access to justice solutions. I’d love to hear just a few examples that would be easy for anybody to understand as to how you’ve taken a problem that affects one individual. And maybe before the solution arrived, it was time consuming, it was expensive. And you figured out how to use human-centered design and technology to scale a solution to that problem.

Miguel: Yes. Tons of examples, one that just came to my mind was a project in partnership with Colorado Legal Services. One of our fellows, a brilliant young man. Duncan, who at the time actually, and I made an exception was entering law school and participated with the program, but he was able in collaboration with the consumer data center in Denver to develop dunking the dat bot, which was a chatbot that helps Coloradians get access to information, to address their consumer debt issues. And also provides, connects those individuals with various forms, access to their attorneys and really triages a user through the process of resolving their debt issue.

Debt is a huge problem in America. And I feel like so much emphasis a lot of times is on technology where the ingenuity really comes within the design, within the collaboration, within the trust partnership with community, and really being able to design a solution that embeds those values is the ultimate goal. While that has been successful in Denver, in Colorado, it may not work in another state. So really thinking about the unique needs of various communities to help shape specific tool or address a specific problem.

Jennifer: I’m really glad that you used the word community because I’d love to talk a little bit about the last couple of years, and everything that we’ve experienced. Just reflect on the pandemic and the summer of reckoning around racial injustice and everything that’s followed those twin pandemics as our colleague Cornell Bogs calls them.

We’re having all of these conversations about equity, about technology, about democracy and about community Miguel to use your word. It seems really messy because we’re trying to solve so many things at once all of a sudden, while the technology’s accelerating, while all of these crises continue to cascade. So how do we reset and have conversations about how to do all of these things, which you’re talking about, which are really complex to do at this accelerated and urgent pace. Do you have any thoughts, Claudia, about how to even begin to back away and start to tackle some of these things, and do them better than we’ve been doing them historically?

Claudia: I think that each organization, but also each community needs to figure out what are their priorities and where do we want to be. Five year horizon in tech can be very long, but as a society, where do we want to be in 5, 10 years? And I think that you can say a lot of things about inclusion and equity and all of that. But when you’re sitting at the decision making table and you look around, and you look at who’s sitting at the table, and if you know your demographics of the community where you live, and if you don’t go to Wikipedia and look out your town, it will tell you the percentage income. It will tell you the race, the breakdown, families with children, percent of people who are poor.

If you’re not seeing some of that represented in that decision making table, you have to stop and you have to think about why, because the demographics in this country have changed so much.

If the communities that are in your town, in your city, in your state are not sitting there, we’re not going to do this well. And we might as well wash our hands and wrap up and walk away. And I can tell you, I graduated in 1999 from college, 92 from policy and public health. I’ve been sitting at decision making tables for a long time in my career. And I’m the only Latina woman, all the time the only Salvadorian pretty much anywhere I go in access to justice and technology and public service.

But why are these communities not at the table? And what is your institution? What is your change agenda doing wrong that is not including it because I can tell you that the drive, the stamina, the perseverance, the resilience will come from these communities that are not sitting at the table. And under the conversation reflects that, we’re not going to get it right. And we’re going to waste a lot of time, or we’re going to have harm millions of people, and we’re going to lose the momentum.

Jennifer: And another good example of the technology and the acceleration of trends and talent, not being self executing and really requiring leadership that cares and carves out the time, to be intentional in the way that you’re talking about. Thank you so much, Claudia. I could talk to both of you all day because you have so much interesting experience and wisdom to share with our audience, but I’m going to move on now to our speed round. And I’m going to challenge each of you to try to answer the following questions with just a few words, if you could. Claudia, I’m going to come back and throw it to you first. What do you think? Are you ready?

Claudia: I’m ready.

Jennifer: You could do it. You’re our carrot lady and I feel good about this. What do you think is the biggest misconception about tech and legal?

Claudia: I think the biggest misconception about tech and legal is that it’s getting easier, and that it’s getting cheaper when I think it’s going the opposite direction. Because particularly maybe if you’re just doing something for a city and a county, and it’s not national in scope, and it’s not covering multiple case use scenarios, maybe it could eventually become easier and cheaper. But it’s only going to be serving one particular case scenario in one particular location with one particular set of personas.

If you’re really looking to create national scalable technology, it is not going to get easier and it’s not going to get cheaper for a lot of reasons. And a lot of that, just very simple. What is the definition of personal identifiable information? You’re going to have to pick one because there’s 50. Just because of our federalism, there’s going to be things that will need to be localized, et cetera.

The funders are not realizing this. Everybody thinks, oh, we’re going to bring technology, is going to be easier and cheaper and anybody can do it. You can just go to GitHub and download these things and yeah, that maybe, but if you’re going to do it well, and you’re going to be accountable and it’s going to be your name and your reputation, you have to be really well thought out and you need to be well funded. The images that it is well funded is an image. It’s not a reality, because at least at the national level, nobody’s really stepping up to say, “Hey, we need this infrastructure that is going to make it available regardless of where the resources are coming from. And it’s not an incident of geography, where is your nonprofit located? What state are you in?” That’s the access you have, we want access for rural desserts. We want access for anyone in a state where the legislature is not funding access to justice. There can be these connections to national tech platforms that can do that. And that’s not easier and cheaper.

It’s in fact more complex and requires more funding. So that’s a big misconception that it can be done on a dime and it can be done in a day, and it can be done with no funding.

Jennifer: Thank you Claudia. The speed round is no match for your wisdom and passion.

Claudia: I get a point.

Jennifer: Miguel, I’m going to throw it to you. What do you think would surprise most lawyers about access to justice?

Miguel: I think that it’s much more encompassing than just providing individuals with access to courts and access to information. There’s a huge legal empowerment aspect of it, and resilience component of strengthening communities. I think that would really surprise a lot of times because a lot of lawyers think that it’s just providing the provision of legal services to the poor, and not all of the encompassing great work of empowering communities.

Jennifer: Great. I am going to actually move into asking both of you, if you have any questions about what we’re doing at the law school. Of course, Miguel you’re with us every day at the law school, but what we’re doing at the law school level to prepare for the future. Claudia, could I go to you?

Claudia: Yeah. Absolutely.

For you, I know that you are leading the Future of the Profession Initiative and you have a vision and a goal. What do you have coming up this year, next year as top priority areas of focus for the initiative and how do you think those will impact legal education in general, not just at Penn, but nationally.

Jennifer: Thank you for the question. And as you both know we had our big kickoff conference in the last days of February, 2020, which was either great timing or terrible timing, depending on how you look at it, because we were obviously sunk into disarray and it was very difficult to get things moving. At the same time we were a live and going entity that was able to explore what was happening in the pandemic, but what I’m excited about and what we’re excited about as a group is our first post pandemic conference in November 3rd and 4th here at the Fillmore in Philadelphia.

I’m excited for a few reasons. One is I really firmly believe that to be inspired by other disciplines as we’re trying to do, you have to get out of a law school environment to do that. So I’m always excited to host an event in a different space that allows our minds to come alive in different ways. I’m really excited to bring together, like we were talking about people from across the profession, not just from one area to have this collective conversation about how we reshape legal education and legal services.

We know that we focus on interdisciplinarity and this year we’re very excited to welcome to our conversation, particularly our colleagues from the design school to help us think about how human centered design offers a framework for the development of better technology, better human centered legal services. To your question, Claudia, this is not just a Penn law or Penn Carey Law initiative. We really want to use that opportunity to shine a light brightly across the country, to all law schools and to all legal service organizations and courts about what we’re doing and be really inclusive. Even beyond the human bodies that can come to the conference.

We want to share the message on social media, share it via live stream, which we were doing even before the pandemic, so that it’s not just limited to the people who are able to attend. So I’m very excited about that. We’re working hard to design a great program, and we’ll have lots of other programming as well in the year ahead, focused on all the different areas that we try to advance through FPI. But that is probably the number one project on the horizon for us.

Well, thank you both for your time today and your expertise and your insight. And thank you always for your partnership in growing and shaping the projects of the Future of the Profession Initiative. It’s been a pleasure working with both of you and I look forward to the future.

Miguel: Thank you so much, Jen.

Claudia: Thank you so much.

Jennifer: What an enlightening conversation with Claudia and Miguel. Here are my three key takeaways.

First, new students offer fresh perspectives that can change the way even seasoned practitioners think about problem solving. Claudia mentioned the project a Penn Carey law student designed in her class that creates more access for neurodiverse populations. The project aims to help a population that even those who have focused on diversity and inclusion have not traditionally considered. In this way, different generations can co-design innovations that respond to needs seasoned pros may not have considered.

Next, innovation certainly encompasses technology, but it’s much broader than that. Miguel described what inspired him to launch the Access to Justice Tech Fellowship program. While the program’s focus is on technology, the project itself is an educational response to a deficit Miguel saw in opportunities for law students across different schools.

And finally, the private sector has an important role to play in closing the access to justice gap. As Claudia mentioned, as technology accelerates and cyber threats grow, under-resourced nonprofits need the partnership of organizations with access to robust technology and resources that protect consumers who rely on that tech as a lifeline to critical services.

Thanks to all of you for joining us today. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen. Be sure to leave us a comment and rate the show too.


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