Access to Justice & Technology Summit

Technology is reshaping our lives by bringing new possibilities: chatbots helping people get access to government housing, dispute an airline charge, resolve problems with landlords; apps helping domestic violence victims call the police, ask for an ambulance, find a place to stay and launch a claim with one click; online courts making it accessible for people to launch small claims from their couch. All these new developments will eventually make justice faster, cheaper, more transparent and finally fully accessible for everyone.

Access to justice is a basic principle of the rule of law and underpins the full and free enjoyment of all other rights. While technology has fundamentally reshaped our lives and the way we access information and services, access to justice remains an inaccessible or protracted process for many. In order to examine the possibilities that technology may provide to improve access to justice around the world, and to find innovative and workable solutions so that people in need have access to effective remedies, regardless of ability to pay, DLA Piper and PILnet (The Global Network for Public Interest Law) are hosting the Access to Justice & Technology Summit (A2J & Tech Summit) on 17 June 2019 in London.

The Summit will bring together pro bono providers, government and UN officials, tech industry experts, funding providers, futurists, academia, civil society, human rights defenders and social entrepreneurs. Through interactive workshops, dynamic discussion sessions and interviews, participants will have the time and space to think together on novel technology solutions to access to justice challenges on a global scale utilizing a framework of four pillars:

The Digital Divide: Economic and social inequality in access to technologies is causing a digital divide. Is access to justice using technology a remote possibility for them?

Legal Empowerment: How can technology increase people’s ability to understand and make use of the law?

Justice Actors: How do legal aid lawyers, boards, pro bono lawyers, bar associations, government legal aid providers, etc., use technology to improve their impact and reach more people?

Access to legal processes and courts: How can technology not only break down the barriers and provide open access to dispute resolution for all but also innovate in the justice system?

At this Summit, participants will work collectively to:

  • identify problems in the area of access to justice;
  • discuss what technological solutions can be proposed to tackle them;
  • identify how to remove the barriers to implement projects; and
  • identify opportunities to make use of the novel technology to improve legal aid and the provision of pro bono legal services.

The A2J & Tech Summit will also provide an opportunity for breaking down the barriers between the legal community, tech community, funders and investors. It aims to provide opportunities to make connections and discuss novel solutions by bringing together sectors of society which do not usually have a chance to collaborate. The A2J & Tech Summit is chaired by an advisory committee and core project partners. Prior to the Summit, the committee will issue a report on the state of play of technology and access to justice in order to facilitate a forward-looking discussion.

The Summit features remarkable speakers from all over the world including Richard Susskind (Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales), Margaret Hagan (Director of the Legal Design Lab, Stanford University), Shannon Salter (Chair of the Civil Resolution Tribunal in British Columbia, Canada), Jim Sandman (President of the Legal Services Corporation, USA), Matthew Stubenberg (Associate Director of Legal Technology, Harvard A2J Tech Law), Dame Hazel Genn (Dean of the Faculty of Laws and Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at University College London), Tanina Rostain (Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, USA), Vincent Richardson (International CTO, Tech for Social Impact, Microsoft Philanthropies), Fiona McLeay (CEO and Commissioner at Legal Services Board, Victoria, Australia) and more.

As space is limited, this is an invitation-only event. To request an invitation, please send an email to

If you are in London at the time of this conference, then I would beg, borrow or steal a ticket. Many of the speakers are people that I would travel – and have travelled – some way to hear. The approach is firmly international but even those with a Brexit-compatible parochialism should note the domestic relevance of the contributions. Jim Sandman, for example, runs a legal aid administration independent of government of the kind that we no longer have. Shannon Salter’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has paid attention to litigants in person very different from the HMCTS rushed court modernisation programme. Overall, the US has a critical mass of people working in access to justice missing in the U.K. and the conference will provide an opportunity to find out what is happening.

Roger Smith



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