I love the time of year when the National Center for State Courts’ publication Future Trends in State Courts comes out. This annual publication is well read and well respected in the court community.

I love reading the new issue of this publication for a lot of reasons—the main one being that I, not being in the court environment, can read some of the articles and get a glimpse at the nitty-gritty of being in a court setting and how innovation happens in that context, and relate that to my experiences being an agent of change in legal nonprofit settings.

The other reason I love Future Trends is that it generally includes a very diverse set of authors and topics—many of them experts in their own right—and so the whole journal is like a little collection of jewels, each piece highlighting something important, effective, and forward looking.

Two pieces in this edition have proven particularly interesting so far.  The first, at page 34, reviews the work the Delaware Courts are doing related to limited English proficient court users.  It was written by Maria Perez-Chambers and Ashley Tucker.  The other article that I’ve already read with interest focuses on the Turner v. Rogers Supreme Court decision that affected the way courts communicate with self-represented litigants. This article, by Richard Zorza, starts at page 56.

I participate as a volunteer reviewer for Future Trends so I get to comment on articles prior to their publication. In that role, I receive the articles in draft format, and I am invited to offer comments and suggestions and recommend the article for submission (or not). I have not kept a tally of my “rate of success” in terms of the articles I have recommended to be included that have made it into final publication format. Anecdotally, I can tell you that the margin seems narrow. I enjoy reviewing the articles as they come, because the editors have for the past three or four years really have made an effort to cover a more diverse set of topics and include more articles that look at collaboration between courts and other groups and agencies where there is overlap in working on similar issues and populations.

I think that the 2012 edition of Future Trends really highlights this increasing diversity of topic and authors, with its focus on “Courts in the Community.” I can’t wait to read the full installment over the summer. I encourage others who are not necessarily working inside court systems but who have joint programs with courts or have collaborative projects/programs to start reading Future Trends and to consider submitting articles for the next installment.