February 15, 2008
IIT Chicago-Kent's Center for Access to Justice & Technology (CAJT) has been selected as the recipient of the American Bar Association's (ABA) 2008 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access. The award honors those programs matching unmet legal needs of the middle class with lawyers who provide affordable legal services. Chicago-Kent professor and center director Ronald W. Staudt accepted the award at a luncheon co-sponsored by the National Conference of Bar Presidents and the National Association of Bar Executives on February 8 during the ABA Midyear Meeting in Los Angeles.
"The committee found the work of the Center [for Access to Justice & Technology] to be an outstanding example of the practical application of technology to legal services in ways that create greater efficiencies and expand access to justice. The dedication of the Center to explore and redefine the potential of technology to serve those who otherwise find legal services unaffordable is highly admirable and clearly worthy of this award," said M. Catherine Richardson, chair of the ABA's Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.
The Center for Access to Justice & Technology was established by Chicago-Kent to make justice more accessible to the public by promoting the use of the Internet. The center conducts research, builds software tools, teaches classes and supports faculty, staff and student projects on access to justice and technology. The CAJT currently manages and promotes three law and technology initiatives: A2J Author, the Access to Justice Student Editorial Board, and the Self-Help Web Center.
The A2J Author is a unique software tool that empowers those from the courts, legal services organizations and educational institutions to provide low-income individuals who are not represented by attorneys the tools to defend themselves in court in certain legal matters. A2J is used in 22 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Ontario, Canada. The Access to Justice Student Editorial Board is a student-run initiative that creates A2J guided interviews with projects in California, Illinois, Maryland and New York. The Self-Help Web Center offers Internet access and law student assistance to visitors to the Circuit Court of Cook County's Pro Se Help Desk at the Richard J. Daley Center in Chicago.
"We are delighted to receive this award. It recognizes the creative hard work of Chicago-Kent students who are using technology in new ways to make a great contribution to the delivery of legal services for low and moderate income people," said Professor Staudt.
The Louis M. Brown Award was established in 1994 by the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. Prior to his death in 1996, Louis M. Brown spent 63 years as an attorney, developing and promoting ways in which the legal profession could bring the law to moderate-income people in constructive and affordable ways. Mr. Brown pioneered concepts of legal clinics and preventive law that then became established models to address legal needs.