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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Brown

ABA Center for Innovation unveils inaugural class of fellows


The American Bar Association’s Center for Innovation on Monday announced its inaugural class of NextGen Fellows and Innovation Fellows. Covering a plethora of practice areas, these fellows from across the country intend to improve legal system access and processes through data, design and technology.

The Center has announced eight fellows for two different tracks. NextGen Fellows are recent law graduates who will spend a year on their projects. Innovation Fellows are mid-career professionals—not necessarily lawyers—who will take a three- or four-month sabbatical from their full-time work to focus on their proposals.

The NextGen Fellows are: Amanda Brown (Microsoft NextGen Fellow), Athena Fan, Tobias Franklin, Reshma Kamath and Irene Mo. Innovation Fellows are Bryan Gossage, Aurora Martin and Bryan Wilson.

“This is a thrilling opportunity for recent graduates and other legal professionals to learn about cutting-edge innovation in the legal industry,” says Andrew Perlman, chair of the governing council for the ABA Center for Innovation and dean of Suffolk University Law School in Boston.

Projects will cover topics related to tenants’ rights, exonerations and international human rights, among others.

Mo, a recent graduate of Michigan State University College of Law, is tackling privacy and online security issues for marginalized and low-income people. She says the fellowship will “enhance” her work because it will bring attention and resources to an area of “legal services that isn’t widely served.”

To Perlman, this is the core strength of this fellowship program. “The ABA is able to bring to the table a pretty unique experience for these fellows” through its “tremendous wealth of connections,” he says.

To that end, Mo is excited to find mentors in the privacy law space to help her grow as a young attorney.

The fellowships begin with a boot camp on Aug. 28 at the ABA headquarters in Chicago. This week-long orientation will allow fellows to grow as a team while learning about each other’s work and delve into principles of design and process thinking. The fellows will be based in Chicago throughout the extent of their fellowships—with one exception of Brown, who will relocate to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, to work on a partnership project between the company and the Legal Services Corp. to improve access to civil legal aid.

Originally scheduled to have only two fellows in each track, external support allowed the Center to double the class size. This support came from the American University Washington College of Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Suffolk University Law School, Microsoft and the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, the North Carolina Bar Association and North Carolina Supreme Court.

Established in 2016, the Center for Innovation supports work that improves the accessibility, affordability and effectiveness of legal services and aims to transform how the public accesses the law and legal information.

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