When COVID-19 first swept across the United States in March 2020, it forced courts across the country to shut down, bringing trials and other legal proceedings to a screeching halt. A new study by The Pew Charitable Trusts examined how courts responded in the aftermath of that shutdown, and it concluded that they did pretty well overall, rapidly embracing technology and revolutionizing their operations.

But the study, How Courts Embraced Technology, Met the Pandemic Challenge, and Revolutionized Their Operations, also found that courts’ accelerated adoption of technology disproportionately benefited those with legal representation, while posing disadvantages for those without legal representation, particularly those whose access was limited by lack of technology, physical disabilities or limited English proficiency.

We take a deep dive into the report with Qudsiya Naqui, a lawyer and officer on the Civil Legal System Modernization team at Pew that conducted this research and produced the report. Naqui is a podcaster herself, host of Down to the Struts, a podcast about disability and design that focuses on building more inclusive systems and structures that acknowledge the breadth of human diversity.

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Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.