Happy New Year from the A2J Lab! The start of 2017 coincides with many exciting research developments and a longer-term campaign to introduce our work more broadly. Practitioners and scholars often ask us about the issues that we care about and how we commit ourselves to randomized interventions in legal services. Thankfully, the Center for Court Innovation, an organization committed to justice reform through rigorous experimentation and data analysis, shared the same questions. Aubrey Fox hosted our very own Jim Greiner on the New Thinking podcast to discuss the A2J Lab’s mission and current projects. Listen here:
Some highlights from the interview include:
Emphasizing how much we can learn from rigorous empirical testing. Leveraging the benefits of randomization allows us to reliably test innovative methods for deploying ever-scare resources in legal services. The end goal, as always, is to enhance citizens’ access to and engagement with the courts.
The A2J Lab strongly believes that the legal profession should pay more attention to knowledge developed outside of the law. For example, we have relied on adult education research to craft useful self-help materials. We have studied experiences from the history of medical science to guide the development of randomized control trials and to execute them ethically. In other words reform of the legal profession cannot and should not proceed in an intellectual vacuum.
These two points reflect the core of the Lab’s mission. We conduct gold standard evaluation to develop useful evidence for legal services providers. We engage with–and hopefully persuade–members of the bench and bar who are resistant to randomized study. The ultimate goal is to push the profession into a new world where more than 50 studies are conducted in over 50 years (as the field stands now). Our vision is to make the randomized control trial as commonplace in the law as it has been toward testing the effectiveness of new medical treatments. Thus, although the primary feature of the Lab is the design and execution of access to justice-related RCTs, we are also committed to maintaining a broader discussion about the necessity and ethical contours of RCTs in the law. In addition to podcasts appearances, we encourage readers of this blog to stay tuned in 2017 for more media appearances, presentations at conferences, and our short course!