As I mentioned in my previous post, the Court Leadership Package was launched at the Court Solutions Conference. By my count, around 180 people from across the United States and Canada as well as several other countries attended the Court Leadership and Self-Represented Litigation track. This was a great conference with ample time for networking and learning. For me, highlights from the conference included the following:
- Being reminded by Joseph Abbate, Senior Management Analyst at the New York Office of Court Administration, that plain language isn't just used or needed in the legal world. Plenty of other jargon needs to be made readable. He used Google's promotional materials for their new browser, Chrome, as an example.
- Listening to Jeanette Fedorak, Senior Policy Counsel for the Government of Alberta, assert that most Canadians, low-income and otherwise, can't afford to hire an attorney. Her argument: In Alberta the cost for a divorce ranges between $16,000 and $128,000 with the average being $44,000. The average income for the lowest 40 percent of Canadians is less than $44,000, and as expected, this group doesn't have a lot socked away in case of emergencies. The next 20 percent of Canadians aren't much better off. They make only $54,200 per year, and while their net worth is higher, most of their savings are invested in their house. Her statistics paint a dismal picture.
- Supping with a group of document assembly enthusiasts at the Rusty Scupper.
- Attending a panel called "Agenda for the Future," which featured Robert Baldwin, Executive Vice-President and General Counsel of the National Center for State Courts; Chief Justice John T. Broderick, Jr. of the New Hampshire Supreme Court; and Justice Laurie D. Zelon, Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal. It was an inspiring session that I'll talk more about in another post.
- Lunching post-conference with Richard Zorza, Justice Zelon, and Bonnie Hough, Supervising Attorney for the Center for Families, Children & the Courts for the Judicial Council of California. All three are amazing access-to-justice advocates. Our conversation reminded me that no significant change happens overnight. It takes work and patience.
For those of you who weren't able to attend, the materials are now posted on SelfHelpSupport.org. Each of the modules includes slides with speaker's notes, project profiles, video clips, and activity and resource books. Also, thanks to Vince Morris, who kindly took on the role of videographer, all of the plenary sessions were filmed and, I hope, will be made available shortly to those who couldn't attend. If you only have a little bit of time, I recommend checking out the document assembly module - Deploying Automated Forms for Access. Granted, I might be biased considering my role in pulling the module together, but I think that one is the best. - K