The American Bar Association Center for Innovation is at Suffolk University Law School on March 20 to build a hate crime app that will help victims report crimes, assess their legal standing, and get help from local and national organizations.
The Center is teaming up with Suffolk Law’s Institute on Legal Practice Technology and Innovation, Cisco, CuroLegal and Stanford University’s Legal Design Lab for a day long “design sprint” during which the basics of the app will be mapped out and developed.
Organizers recognized that it will have to be a group effort to work. The attendees will include members of communities of color, LGBTQ advocates and representatives from various religions, who will be asked to draw from their experiences to help develop the app. They’ll work with coders, designers, Suffolk Law legal technology students, law enforcement officials, civil rights advocates, and attorneys familiar with immigration and hate crime laws, among others.
The app will be refined by CuroLegal, a software development firm, and plans are to launch this spring.
Andrew Perlman, Suffolk Law’s dean, said that the app will make it easier for victims to determine whether the situation they faced meets the legal threshold to be considered a hate crime—a definition that changes depending on the location where the alleged crime took place. Also, he explained that the app will help individuals find the proper pathway to report the crime, which can be confusing.
The ABA Center’s collaboration with Cisco, a world leader in web-based networking products and services, represents one of a number of new projects. The Center was established in September 2016 to encourage and accelerate innovations that improve the accessibility, affordability and effectiveness of legal services and to transform how the public accesses the law and legal information. Dean Perlman is the chair of the Center’s governing council.
“Cisco’s proud to support the application of smart networking technology to drive access to justice and solve pressing social needs,” said Mark Chandler, Cisco senior vice president and general counsel. “By helping citizens determine for themselves whether their rights have been violated by hate crimes, and how to get help, the ABA is driving innovation and efficiency into provision of legal services.”
“The ABA is pleased to join with Cisco and others to chart new territory dealing with technology and access to justice issues,” ABA President Linda A. Klein said. “This application will greatly help victims of hate crimes identify, report and find resources in their local communities.”
Nicole Bradick, a former civil rights attorney and now chief strategy officer of CuroLegal, said that trying to get information online about how to report a hate crime and the legal definitions of such crimes is difficult. “The goal is to have one place that walks the victim through the process,” she said.
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