With funding from the Legal Services Corporation Technology Assistance Grants, Pro Bono Net is organizing its first online developer training for the online legal services and court document assembly community. This five week series will start on 9/9/2014 and will end on 10/7/2014. Each two hour session will teach basic A2J Author and HotDocs skills, so that legal aid groups, pro bono groups, and partner court staff can learn how to create online forms through LawHelp Interactive. The training series has been well received and with quick and heavy registration. The webinar series will be recorded and in November, PBN will release the recordings for those who could not join the series. The trainers for this series include

  • Jessica Bolack Frank from A2J Author
  • Marc Lauritsen of Capstone Practice
  • Bart Earle also from Capstone Practice
  • Mirenda Watkins and Claudia Johnson from Pro Bono Net

More information can about the series is available at the LHI Support Trainings pageLawHelp Interactive is operated through a collaboration between Pro Bono Net, LSC, and the Ohio State Legal Services Association. LHI hosts over 3,000 online forms that are used daily in over 40 states by self-represented litigants, clinics, pro bono lawyers, and legal aid staff to efficiently create legal documents and increase access to justice. Teaching how to create online forms is of utmost importance as outlined in the LSC Technology Summit Report. In the second quarter of 2014, over 130,600 legal documents were created through LawHelp Interactive.

In June, Pro Bono Net partnered with LSNTAP to produce a webinar on technology tools for Limited English Proficiency communities. Moderated by Mirenda Watkins of Pro Bono Net, the webinar examined some of the challenges of creating and maintaining multilingual tech tools and showcased possible solutions to these challenges through innovative examples in the legal technology community.

With 25 million people in the US classified as LEP, the webinar first explored the challenges of using technology to help the LEP community navigate the legal system. Rochelle Klempner, Chief Counsel of the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program covered the difficult task of updating multilingual forms, including document assembly programs, written self-help materials, training materials, videos, webpages, posters, flyers, signs, and more when something changes. She provided some great tips on how to keep these resources current.

Additionally, Kathy Daniels of Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut discussed the fotonovela video project, an alternative solution to the challenge described above. A fotonovela uses photos with conversation bubbles and is similar to a comic book. She has developed PDF and video (with audio) resources in the fotonovela format. Daniels noted that the videos can be easily modified for additional languages and adapted to almost any legal topic or jurisdiction.

Sandra Sandoval of the Immigration Advocates Network also presented on CitizenshipWorks, a collection of multilingual online tools and resources that assist the public and advocates involved in the naturalization process. Resources are accessible via a mobile application, SMS text, and LiveHelp. Multilingual resources include document assembly tools and an e-learning module.

Lastly, Mike Monahan of the State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project / Georgia Legal Services Program covered resources his program developed for attorneys assisting LEP clients. He demoed their online MCLE videos, as well as an SMS tool that allows attorneys to text for interpretation and other resources.

The webinar was well attended, with lots of great questions. Materials from this informative webinar are available on the SWEB Support Site, and be sure to join us for the next LSNTAP/PBN webinar!

LawHelp Interactive (LHI) is a Pro Bono Net program that helps poverty law and court access-to-justice programs implement online document assembly projects. Blue Ridge Legal Services and Pro Bono Net are rebuilding the technical infrastructure of LHI to make sure that it remains a sustainable, scalable national solution for the extensive development and use of interactive legal forms and to better support integration with case management and e-filing systems in courts nationwide. LHI has grown at a rapid pace – from 76,000 documents completed in 2007 to more than 815,000 forms in 2013. In 2006, LHI supported interactive forms projects in 11 states in 2006; we now support over 40 states that are all using LHI in vital and innovative ways on a daily basis. The service is being used in ever more creative and compelling ways to empower self-represented litigants and increase the capacity of legal services and pro bono attorneys. The LHI rebuild will support these growing and diverse uses and user base needs and volume. Rebuilding a large system such as LHI that is used in so many different ways by so many different people is an intense project.

Speaking of intense, three Pro Bono Net staff members (Alice, Karin, and I) are wedding planning at the same time. While the LHI rebuild and weddings are different in many ways, there are some lessons that can be learned from the rebuild process useful for wedding planning. Here are a few:

  • Establishing a Budget and a Project Plan: Pro Bono Net is working with Marlabs Corporation, a leading IT service provider, to implement the LHI rebuild. Earlier this year, Marlabs, Pro Bono Net, and Blue Ridge Legal Services developed a high-level project plan for the rebuild outlining the timeline for building, testing, updating, and transitioning to the new LHI platform. Having a plan early on in wedding planning, along with setting a budget, is crucial in making sure that everything is in place in time for the big day and things are sustainable afterwards.
  • Utilizing Experts: Pro Bono Net Staff and expert consultants like long-time LHI collaborators Kaivo, Capstone Practice Systems, and Todd Pedwell play a significant role in providing expertise of the LHI system which is important in making sure the new system meets the needs of LHI users and partners. When folks are looking to plan a wedding, know when to call on experts. You’ll be happier with the finished product (whether it be a template upload process or a wedding cake).
  • Feedback and Partnerships: A major strength of LHI is its partners and the sharing of best practices. We will be opening up the rebuild environment around August 2014 to our partners to test and provide feedback. This is going to be a critical step in the success of the rebuild; it will be like the dress rehearsal where we get to make sure everything works before the real walk down the aisle. Similarly with wedding planning, use your friends and family to get feedback on ideas. They’ll add great insight.
  • Flexibility: There are a lot of moving pieces to LHI and it’s a complex system. Upgrading HotDocs, the software used to assemble documents on LHI, took longer than expected and changes like this can affect the rebuild process. Staying flexible is key to keeping a project like the rebuild moving forward. Same thing with weddings, be flexible enough to react to inclement weather, friends you really want to come relocating to the Philippines (true story!), unexpected costs, etc.

As with a wedding, there is a lot of excitement about what the new LHI system will look like. For more information and updates on the LHI rebuild, please visit: http://www.probono.net/dasupport/lhi_rebuild/ (for wedding inspiration, I recommend: http://offbeatbride.com/).

A pilot program at the Riverside County Superior Court in California is allowing domestic violence victims to complete applications for Domestic Violence Restraining Orders (DVRO) online and electronic fax completed forms to the courthouse. I spoke with The Honorable Jackson Lucky about the initiative and the impact he has witnessed in the courthouse.

At Riverside Court, domestic violence victims are one of the highest risk populations, but victims often have trouble getting access to justice. Over 6,700 domestic violence cases are filed each year at Riverside, mostly by litigants without lawyers. The filings require individuals to draft a multitude of documents, forcing them to repeatedly fill-in the same information and leading to confusion and incomplete forms. A clerk must then spend time reviewing, rejecting, or explaining the forms to the applicant. The new system, spearheaded by Susan Ryan, Managing Self-Help Attorney for Riverside Superior Court, seeks to simplify the process for applicants and increase efficiency in the court.

Individuals applying for a DVRO can now complete LHI DVRO Questionairetheir filings online through an Interactive Form Completion system enabled by LawHelp Interactive (LHI) and built using HotDocs software. LHI, a Pro Bono Net program, seeks to use technology to improve the legal form and document preparation process for low-income people and the attorneys who assist them. Comparable to TurboTax, the system asks users a series of questions that build upon their answers to the preceding questions. LHI automatically populates the repetitive fields on forms, such as name or home address, saving applicants time and increasing the accuracy of completed forms.

Another need the LHI powered forms solve is the lack of sufficient information being included in the pleadings. According to Judge Lucky, individuals often assume judges know more than they do and leave off vital facts and information about their case. He explained that a victim may make a conclusory statement, such as “my boyfriend is harassing me,” without further explanation. Harassing has many different definitions, not all of which qualify as domestic violence. The online interview eliminates the uncertainty of these situations by asking a series of specific questions about the situation such as, what happened just before the abuse started, what did the person say to you, did the police come. This information is then compiled into the form, allowing a judge to easily assess the situation.

After an individual has completed the interactive interview process they are presented with a completed form that can either be faxed directly to the court, or printed and hand delivered. Electronic fax filing, a system created by the court, allows victims to submit their forms quickly and efficiently from safe anonymous locations. Additionally, a fax filed application will arrive before a judge’s eyes faster than a document brought to the court in person, as it does not have to pass through a window clerk or be scanned into the court system. While the electronic fax system is certainly administratively beneficial and efficient, Judge Lucky stressed the importance of the LHI software.

The benefits of the online interview continue after the DVRO has been filed – regardless of how it was filed. Judge Lucky explained that it is much easier to review forms that were completed online. “I can count on certain things being consistently correct,” he explained. “It becomes more of a quick review for formal defects versus an extensive review that a document filled out by hand requires.” And of course, forms completed using a computer do not run the risk of being illegible. Judge Lucky also explained that the consistent format of the form allows him to more easily find the information he needs to review. He noted that he tends to reject fewer cases that are done through the online system for a lack of specificity, because the interview prompts applicants to supply enough information about the case. The praise for the system is not limited to the courthouse; users have been thrilled with its ease and simplicity. “This is a wonderful program,” reported one user, “the final product is perfect.”

According to Judge Lucky, this type of innovative system could be replicated in other courts and for other issues. “There is nothing special about domestic violence that makes this type of technology suited to domestic violence versus other types of filings.” He explained that the main impediment to implementing such programs, aside from cost, is the development process of creating an interview that comes up with the correct prompts to lead to well filled-out forms. “Programs like this are what make it easier for people that are forced to represent themselves in court,” he said. “Finding ways to use technology to make things more accessible should be an obligation of the court. Justice is becoming a scarce resource and we need to get more people access.”

Editor’s Note:  Pro Bono Net operates LawHelp Interactive in partnership with Ohio State Legal Services Association, and with the generous support of the Legal Services Corporation and HotDocs, the global leader in document generation.

Certain features of the American legal tradition are so fundamental as to be virtually sacrosanct: the adversarial system, attorney-client privilege, and pounding on the table to make a forceful point. Some basic assumptions underlie this model, including that lawyers provide litigants with beginning-to-end “full representation” in a case. To do otherwise has long been considered ethically questionable, if not explicitly forbidden, under rules of professional conduct.  However, when this model fails to provide representation of any sort for the millions of Americans engaged in potentially life-changing cases, it’s time to try some new thinking.

The Practising Law Institute recently presented an excellent program titled “Limited Scope Representation 2014: Ethical & Practical Challenges” that explored this relatively new approach to legal representation. “Limited scope” representation, in which a full attorney-client relationship is formed between lawyer and client for a brief period to address onlya discrete aspect or stage of a fuller legal matter, is increasingly seen as a way to bridge the justice gap for litigants who typically face important legal issues, for example housing rights or eviction prevention, without any legal counsel. The program held particular interest for me as I developed the first Volunteer-Lawyer-for-the-Day pilot for litigants in consumer debt cases in the New York City Civil Courts, under the auspices of the New York State Courts’ Access to Justice Program and its pioneering Director, the Honorable Fern Fisher.

The program was moderated by Liliana Vaamonde, Training Director of the Civil Practice for The Legal Aid Society, and featured an excellent lineup of speakers with unique experiences and points of view, including Professor Philip Genty of Columbia Law School (on the concept of unbundled legal services and recent disciplinary rule changes to endorse them), Brenna DeVaney of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meager & Flom LLP (on an innovative school-based program to provide limited-scope services to families in need), Lauren Donnelly of The Legal Aid Society (on the Housing Help program that provides a range of legal services from advice to full representation to prevent homelessness), and, of course, Judge Fisher herself, who is both a champion of the limited scope movement and a foremost expert on its theory and implementation.

The panelists touched on a number of key issues around the benefits and challenges of limited scope in a relatively short time, including the mechanics of limited scope representation (sign a new limited scope retainer for each brief engagement!), conflicts (see ABA Model Rule 6.5 and its state analogs), and its attractiveness to busy pro bono attorneys (help clients in need through a predefined time commitment, without the threat of becoming locked into an ongoing case). They were also careful to acknowledge the legitimate shortcomings of these models for certain subsets of litigants. For example, some litigants’ circumstances are legally complex, while others need a more meaningful and long-term relationship with a legal provider for reasons including domestic violence, age, or disability.

While all agreed that full representation for every client who needs it is the ideal, we live in the practical world, and it was inspiring to see PLI and these talented and thoughtful panelists explore these practical solutions.

About the Series

Richard Zorza, one of the founders and leaders of the access to justice (ATJ) movement, recently received the American Bar Association’s 2014 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access’ Lifetime Achievement Honor for decades of work on behalf of self-represented litigants. Not to be outdone, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators passed a Resolution of Recognition “express[ing] their deep appreciation to Richard Zorza for his thoughtful, unique, and dedicated service, loyal support and guidance, and for his unfailing commitment to improving the state courts of this nation, and the Conferences extend to him their best wishes for the future.” Richard was at the Open Society Institute with Mark O’Brien and Michael Hertz when they formed Pro Bono Net, and had a profound influence on our founding and development. As we approach our 15th anniversary, we would like to extent our deepest gratitude and thanks for his tremendous guidance. I recently spoke with Richard, and we are excited to produce this five-part installment from that discussion. Our final post focuses on the future of the ATJ movement. And of course, read more of Richard’s always fascinating thoughts on his Access to Justice blog.

Where to Now?

After covering the successes and struggles of the access to justice movement, I asked Richard where we go from here. What are the areas to focus on and how can we build on our successes and respond to emerging areas of need? As we conclude Speaking with the Master, I encourage everyone to think about what Richard has said and share where they think we need to go next (and why).

Richard highlighted the non-lawyer initiatives in New York and the work that Judge Fern Fisher and Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman have done to highlight access to justice issues and encourage experimental efforts to close the justice gap. He has heard very positive reports and thinks that if they continue to go well, such initiatives will “spread like wildfire” and quickly become the norm across the country. In addition, he mentioned Bonne Hough’s work in California to increase the California courts’ responsiveness to pro se litigants and ensure that all litigants, not just those affluent enough to afford counsel, receive fair and equitable treatment. It is important that we consider what we can to do provide help – not just legal assistance, but help – to the millions who interact with the complicated court system every year. Richard stressed the importance of broadening our horizons and continuing to look for innovative solutions, both technologically and conceptually. Almost every great idea was once considered crazy and unrealistic.

Of course, some traditional solutions are incredibly effective (eat your veggies!) and Richard said that non-lawyer programs must be paired with efforts to increase the supply of lawyers working to meet the ever-growing demand for legal services. As discussed previously on this blog, the economic theory of supply and demand is not an accurate description of the issues facing the legal profession and the justice system. America has both an oversupply of lawyers and an unmet demand for legal services. We must encourage more young lawyers to help increase access to justice and make it economically sustainable for them to do so.

Lastly, Richard pointed to the importance of ongoing research assessing the size of the justice gap, where it is most prevalent, and what remedies are most effective. In the early years of the movement, research was too often neglected, but thankfully that has begun to change. Increased research leads to increase knowledge, which leads to the efficient resource allocation necessary for effective resource utilization, and finally the narrowing of the justice gap (it is like the path to the Dark Side, only the exact opposite).

And on that wonderful joke, I am going to conclude Speaking with the Master. I want to thank Richard Zorza for his generosity and time, and all of you for continuing for bearing with me as I repeatedly expanded this series. Personally, I blame Richard for being too interesting and insightful, but I understand if others feel differently.

About the Series

Richard Zorza, one of the founders and leaders of the access to justice (ATJ) movement, recently received the American Bar Association’s 2014 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access’ Lifetime Achievement Honor for decades of work on behalf of self-represented litigants. Not to be outdone, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators passed a Resolution of Recognition “express[ing] their deep appreciation to Richard Zorza for his thoughtful, unique, and dedicated service, loyal support and guidance, and for his unfailing commitment to improving the state courts of this nation, and the Conferences extend to him their best wishes for the future.”  Richard was at the Open Society Institute with Mark O’Brien and Michael Hertz when they formed Pro Bono Net, and had a profound influence on our founding and development. As we approach our 15th anniversary, we would like to extent our deepest gratitude and thanks for his tremendous guidance. I recently spoke with Richard, and we are excited to produce this four five-part installment from that discussion. Our third post covers future improvements for self-represented litigants. And of course, read more of Richard’s always fascinating thoughts on his Access to Justice blog.

Standing up for the Self-Represented

The origin story of the Self-Represented Litigants Network got me thinking about we can do today to assist pro se litigants. I asked Richard what changes would have the largest impact and he immediately identified three areas: simplification, triage, and universal access.

Beginning with simplification, Richard pointed out that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were written in the 1930s (or as he starkly put it – “before computers, but also before photocopiers and ballpoint pens!”). Most view the rules as apolitical or simply a structure to promote efficiency, but they produce definite winners and losers. For example, easy enforcement rules benefit the smaller and always-represented creditor class at the expense of the larger, often pro se debtor class. Thus, the rules have powerful effects on results and rule changes are fundamentally an access to justice project and a fundamental part of the ATJ movement.

The case for better triage is simple: effective resource utilization requires effective resource allocation. As Richard says, we will not have 100% access to justice until there is a system that effectively gets resources to those who need them, especially unrepresented litigants who need counsel or self-help resources. A more rational and efficient system does not mean one that is 100% fair, but rather one that is better than the status quo. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good – the fact that we cannot create a completely fair triage system is not an impediment to developing better and more equitable systems.

Richard’s final point is a crucial, and oft under-reported, one: the ATJ movement must be about 100% access to justice for all, not about 100% access to justice for a subset of the population. About 20% of Americans qualify for free legal assistance (though only 4% are able to access it), but that leaves a wide swath of people that cannot afford legal representation and must appear pro se. The movement has to help these people as well. Richard stressed that technology can help address this gap. Legal tech is often developed via funding for low-income assistance, but the completed technology can then be deployed to help everyone. There is no marginal cost to extending technology beyond the low-income population to the middle class and, thus, it can be leveraged to make dramatic differences in the lives of millions of Americans who represent themselves in court every year.

So ends this post, but come back next week for the Episode VI of our series which will cover Richard’s thoughts on the successes, failures, and future of the Access to Justice Movement.

About the Series

Richard Zorza, one of the founders and leaders of the access to justice (ATJ) movement, recently received the American Bar Association’s 2014 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access’ Lifetime Achievement Honor for decades of work on behalf of self-represented litigants. Not to be outdone, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators passed a Resolution of Recognition “express[ing] their deep appreciation to Richard Zorza for his thoughtful, unique, and dedicated service, loyal support and guidance, and for his unfailing commitment to improving the state courts of this nation, and the Conferences extend to him their best wishes for the future.”  Richard was at the Open Society Institute with Mark O’Brien and Michael Hertz when they formed Pro Bono Net, and had a profound influence on our founding and development. As we approach our 15th anniversary, we would like to extent our deepest gratitude and thanks for his tremendous guidance. I recently spoke with Richard, and we are excited to produce this four five-part installment from that discussion. Our second post covers the origins of the Self-Represented Litigation Network. And of course, read more of Richard’s always fascinating thoughts on his Access to Justice blog.

The SRLN Begins

One of the most important projects Richard has spearheaded was the creation and development of the Self-Represented Litigation Network (SRLN). As he noted in the previous episode, the 1999 Conference on Self-Represented Litigants was when the ATJ movement really began to accelerate. At that time, the Open Society Institute brought together various stakeholders (including Pro Bono Net, the National Center for State Corps, and the Legal Services Corporation) to discuss what would become the Technology Innovation Grants (TIG) program. In addition, the same group began discussing self-representation and identified six states where various parties might assemble to develop a long-term strategic plan for assisting pro se litigants. In 2000 at the first TIG Conference, they created a substantive agenda to guide their efforts moving forward.

After the conference, the group continued to meet and the SLRN informally launched as a website in 2001. Further conferences and funding followed the successful initial launch, and the Network continued to grow. Richard stressed that the first steps were very ad hoc and focused on bringing together stakeholders in states that did not have a dominant legal aid entity. Capitalizing on a growing recognition that groups with no collaborative history could and should work together, the founders of the SRLN sought to create a network that could work both in tandem and in isolation to assist pro se litigants. The SLRN would not be an arm of LSC, the bar, or the Courts, and therefore 1) it could achieve far more than any entity could individually and 2) no organization would feel as if it were receiving short-shrift. Thus, it developed into a decentralized network, rather than a command and control program that can quickly and easily adapt to individual situations across the country.

Bringing the conversation back to the present, I asked Richard what changes would make the biggest difference for self-represented litigants today. However, to hear his thoughts for the future, you’ll have to return next week for the third installment of this rapidly growing series.

About the Series

Richard Zorza, one of the founders and leaders of the access to justice (ATJ) movement, recently received the American Bar Association’s 2014 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access’ Lifetime Achievement Honor for decades of work on behalf of self-represented litigants. Not to be outdone, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators passed a Resolution of Recognition “express[ing] their deep appreciation to Richard Zorza for his thoughtful, unique, and dedicated service, loyal support and guidance, and for his unfailing commitment to improving the state courts of this nation, and the Conferences extend to him their best wishes for the future.”  Richard was at the Open Society Institute with Mark O’Brien and Michael Hertz when they formed Pro Bono Net, and had a profound influence on our founding and development. As we approach our 15th anniversary, we would like to extent our deepest gratitude and thanks for his tremendous guidance. I recently spoke with Richard, and we are excited to produce this three four five-part installment from that discussion. This first post will focus on the founding and history of the access to justice movement through the eyes of one of its pioneers. And of course, read more of Richard’s always fascinating thoughts on his Access to Justice blog.

Installment One

Richard traces the access to justice movement’s beginnings back to the early 1990s, when an array of stakeholders concluded that the existing approach of “just fund more lawyers” was not reducing the justice gap. The ATJ movement’s first steps were to develop self-help centers in Arizona and California and to recognize that technology could be leveraged to support lawyers and provide direct services to the self-represented. At the same time, the Bar, legal services providers, and the judiciary formed the first Access to Justice Board in Washington to coordinate the ATJ movement and consider larger, more conceptual changes. These two revolutions – the idea that technology could augment the work of lawyers and that the different stakeholders could and should work together – were essential to the birth of the ATJ movement and have been essential to its successes over the ensuing two decades.

Like a Porsche accelerating from 0-60MPH, the ATJ movement expanded quickly. By 1998, the Inspector General of the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) was supporting an online document assembly pilot in Georgia and LSC held the first summit on technology and legal services, which led to the enormously successful Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) program. Perhaps even more importantly, Richard stressed that the summit created a venue for never-before-held discussions on how legal aid providers and the courts could work together to increase access to justice and make the system fairer for all participants, not just those who can afford counsel.

ATJ commissions proliferated over the next several years, technology began to take on a greater role (including the founding of Pro Bono Net and LawHelp), and states began to expand their self-help initiatives. Of course, developments across these three areas were intertwined and interrelated. In November 1999, the American Judicature Society, State Justice Institute, and Open Society Institute hosted a national conference on pro se litigation with teams from every state attending. Richard believes that this was the moment when efforts to provide support to self-represented litigants really accelerated. After the conference, the state teams returned home with outlines for plans to assist the unrepresented.

That’s it for today, but tune in next time for more of Richard’s thoughts on supporting self-represented litigants and the creation of the Self-Represented Litigants Network.

According to the Polaris Project, “human trafficking is considered to be one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world” with the International Labor Organization reporting almost 21 million people in forced labor in 2012. In response to this growing and devastating trend, PLI recently sponsored a standout event that featured several top names in anti-trafficking law from across the legal spectrum. In a single afternoon, attendees received an introduction to key issues in anti-human trafficking advocacy, a look into the creative legal strategies used to fight it, and insight on the New York Courts’ groundbreaking trafficking initiatives from the very judges who created them.

The Honorable Judy Harris Kluger led off the afternoon with an introduction and some comments on the central issues around human trafficking. Judge Kluger recently took the helm at Sanctuary for Families after a distinguished career in the New York Courts for which she earned acclaim for her extensive efforts and expertise around human trafficking and domestic violence. Her comments were followed by a panel that introduced volunteers to key concepts in understanding and exposing human trafficking, such as how to define human trafficking and how it typically operates. Dorchen Leidholdt, Taina Bien-Aime, and Anne Milgram discussed the many guises of trafficking as it exists in virtually every inhabited corner of the globe.

With a grounding in the core concepts, the event turned to the criminal justice system’s response to human trafficking. This engaging discussion between Lori L. Cohen, Kate Mogulescu, and John Temple (i.e., two defense attorneys and a prosecutor) covered the various strategies available to their clients and, most interestingly, the degree to which their aims are often similar. While the defense represents trafficking victims charged with crimes, prosecution and defense are often able to work together to obtain good outcomes for victims and target higher-level operators who control the trafficking. The panelists also discussed the intersection of criminal and immigration law in trafficking cases, a frequent occurrence that makes cases significantly more complicated due to the byzantine way that U.S. immigration law treats criminal convictions for purposes of potential residency or deportability.

The concluding panel “A View from the Bench” provided candid comments from the judges who created and/or currently oversee the problem-solving courts that deal with human trafficking: the Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Hon. Fernando Camacho, and Hon. Toko Serita. The judges’ discussion of the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts was quite thought-provoking, as was Judge Camacho’s compelling story about his innovative effort to create a court to serve teenagers charged with prostitution-related offenses. Judge Camacho’s work with Rachel Lloyd and GEMS are a testament to the amazing results courts can achieve by thinking outside the box.

Congratulations to PLI Program Attorney Doreen Odom on putting together a terrific program!