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Justice for Change: Pro Bono in Legal Tech and eDiscovery

Dec 14, 2022

In a competitive legal environment where attorneys must make every minute count, providing pro bono legal services might seem like a waste of valuable time. In reality, pro bono work can impact virtually every part of a lawyer’s career, from personal development to community impact, making it a critical activity that every serious legal professional should consider.

Legal Pro Bono Work and the Part Technology Should Play 

Rule 6.1 of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct sets forth the obligation that attorneys must engage in pro bono work to ensure access to justice for those who are financially unable to afford a lawyer, and the ABA recommends that attorneys spend a minimum of 50 hours each year delivering pro bono services. (Pro bono is short for pro bono publico, a Latin phrase meaning “for the public good.”)

Managing discovery is arguably one of the most expensive parts of the litigation process. Yet, despite this, the focus is often on a client’s ability to afford legal representation, not whether they can afford the technology needed to gain access to justice. CDS believes in and actively works to advance the mission to provide everyone equal access to our justice systems. Data alone will not change our collective paths but improving access to data management and analysis tools can only get us closer to our collective equity goals. 

That’s why we’re part of the Justice for Change program in partnership with Relativity. The initiative makes it possible for technology administrators, project managers, engineers, and certified legal tech professionals to use their professional capabilities and expertise in tandem with clients, law firms, corporations, and other organizations to promote social change and equal justice. 

What is Justice for Change, and How Does it Work?

In 2020, Relativity introduced Justice for Change to empower legal teams to tackle social and racial justice issues by providing the technology necessary to organize data, discover the truth, and act on it. 

Nick Robertson, former COO and sponsor of Justice for Change at Relativity, explained the program this way: “We began Justice for Change because we felt our technology and our ecosystem of law firms and legal service providers were uniquely positioned to positively impact racial and social justice in our communities. It’s hard to find a matter anywhere now that doesn’t have a lot of data (emails, text messages, social platforms) associated with it. Somewhere within that data is the truth of what happened, but oftentimes pro bono legal teams don’t have the technology and resources required to efficiently discover it. We wanted to remove any obstacles that prevent legal teams from using the absolute best tools and technology to represent their clients in pro bono racial and social justice matters—and to raise awareness for this work.”

CDS was the first partner to join the Justice for Change initiative in the United States, and CDS’ program is currently working on four different sponsored projects, including two in collaboration with the Innocence Project. On November 8, 2022, CDS became the first Justice for Change Partner for Justice for Change UK.

Here is how Justice for Change works:

  • Organizations performing legal work related to racial justice issues that would benefit from technology to enable them to get organized, search documents, and create a case narrative can apply for the free use of Relativity’s cloud-based eDiscovery product, RelativityOne.
  • Projects that are selected as part of the Justice for Change program are entitled to 500GB and 10 users at no charge for 24 months.
  • Recipient organizations are paired with a legal service provider or law firm that will provide access to RelativityOne as well as administrative and project management support.

Justice can only be gained on a level playing field, and any tool that allows legal consumers to engage in the discovery process in a more efficient and effective way will help them get to that core truth more quickly.

Ready to Use Your eDiscovery Chops to Make a Difference?

If you want to leverage your eDiscovery knowledge and make a societal difference, consider getting involved in Relativity’s Justice for Change program. Organizations with qualifying legal cases are encouraged to complete a preliminary intake form to be partnered with a law firm or service provider who can offer free access to RelativityOne. If your organization can offer hosting, administrative, or project management support to the Justice for Change program, please reach out to the Relativity team.

About the Author

Chris O'Connor

Chris O'Connor

As the Director of eDiscovery Strategy, Chris O’Connor advises clients on the use of technology in all aspects of the eDiscovery Reference Model (EDRM) from collection through production. He applies his deep knowledge of legal technology and processes to the design of case strategies and workflows to be implemented by clients and the CDS Project Management Team.