Starting point. The Justice Technology Association sees a lot of injustice when it comes to the legal system. For example, people who cannot afford a lawyer often suffer. “The reality is that 80 percent of people who need help can’t get money for the law,” said Maya Markovic, executive director of JTA. “In 75 percent of cases, at least one party represents itself. They are trying to represent themselves because of life-changing issues such as eviction, debt collection, domestic violence, immigration, employment, and lack of legal counsel.
This is where justice technology comes in. JTA defines justice technology as “innovative technology designed to improve or unlock access to legal rights or improve outcomes for people seeking legal assistance.
The justice technology companies that have joined the organization help people with uncontested divorces, small claims and criminal record expungements.
“All these [technologies] They are turning to very expensive and often inaccessible legal aid to help people who should be able to do it on their own,” Markovich said.
Early work. Currently, the organization is trying to establish its membership and gain a better understanding of the industry.
“We are making a significant contribution to being a resource in the justice technology landscape, identifying where problems exist, and raising awareness and support for companies,” said Markovich. She explained that the organization is inviting non-profit organizations to join because many share the same values as JTA in helping people get justice through the legal system.
JTA’s early focus will be on best practices for the sector. “We’re offering a series of initiatives to dive into the general lack of data and metrics about what’s going on in space,” Markovich said. “We’re looking for ways to address this issue with other organizations—mission-oriented organizations. Also, we want to uncover best practices, trends and the importance of those trends.
Next steps. Although JTA is a national organization, most laws vary by state, meaning that justice technology companies must be approved and meet regulations in each state. In some states, Markovich said, traditional legal groups oppose justice technology, and in the future, she wants JTA to provide advocacy support to members in those states. “[Some companies] They’re waging this state-by-state battle to get them to legally operate and provide their services,” Markovich said. “So we hope to start supporting those [companies] through a lawyer.”
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