Shortly after the NBA introduced the three-point line in 1979, current Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni called his brother Dan, a fellow coach, and told him: “You might wanna start seeing how valuable that three-point line is.” About twenty-five years later, Mike D’Antoni would revolutionize the NBA with his “seven seconds or less” Phoenix Suns basketball team.
Just one year before D’Antoni became head coach of the Suns, they had finished with an abysmal 29-53 record, despite having generational talents like Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion, and Stephon Marbury. When D’Antoni inherited this roster, he kept it mostly intact, except for one key switch: bringing in Steve Nash to replace Stephon Marbury. In other words, the number of resources available to D’Antoni did not suddenly improve. Instead, D’Antoni made one key player swap and completely restructured how he used the players available to him.
Over the course of the 2004-05 NBA season, D’Antoni implemented a brand-new offensive system that prioritized playing fast and shooting lots of three-pointers. The fast-offensive system played to the strengths of his young, athletic roster, while the three-point shooting capitalized on what analytics has now deemed to be the most efficient shot in basketball. With this forward-thinking approach supporting them, the Suns finished 62-20, in what may have been the greatest single-season turnaround of all time.
Modern-day basketball has proven that D’Antoni was neither crazy nor misguided in his belief that the three-point shot was the most valuable in basketball. However, we must not forget D’Antoni’s willingness to be a trailblazer. If he had not questioned the status quo and considered how he could improve upon it, the Suns, and basketball itself, may have never taken the massive leap that we see today.
In a similar, and much more important vein, legal technology presents an opportunity for each of us to be trailblazers. Legal aid organizations have dedicated and talented attorneys. But no matter how dedicated and talented the attorneys are, they cannot outperform the system that they have been placed into. With that in mind, we must channel our own inner Coach D’Antoni, designing new, more efficient systems that help maximize the talents of legal aid attorneys.
This summer, I will be assisting Legal Aid of Wyoming and A2J Tech with the implementation of a Universal Triage System. The objective of the triage system is to reduce the time that both clients and lawyers spend on the intake process.
Traditionally, a client seeking representation from a legal aid organization spends significant time trying to find the proper organization to take their case. This search often involves the client needing to repeat the facts of their case to several different lawyers, just to ultimately find out that they don’t qualify for representation at the given organization. Since we can assume that clients are in enough stress already trying to live through whatever legal encounter they are facing, the triage system aims to reduce this stress of finding appropriate representation. Once the triage system is created, Wyomingites will be able to fill out one form that will point them to the proper resource to help them with their legal problem.
On the other hand, legal aid lawyers will benefit from this system because they will no longer need to spend as much time interviewing and intaking people who aren’t even eligible for them to represent. While legal aid lawyers would love to represent everybody, the truth is that their time and resources are limited. By reducing the amount of time that lawyers need to spend on the intake process, the triage system will enable more clients to be represented, and more time to be spent on each client’s case.
The ultimate goal of this system’s implementation is to help achieve 100% access to justice in Wyoming. While this system will be solid in its foundation, there will no doubt be problems to fix along the way. To spot these problems, we will be using key performance indicators (KPIs), that will allow the system to be continuously improved. By the end of this project, the hope is to create our own three-point revolution that provides talented lawyers with the systems they need to more efficiently represent the clients they serve.
Credit: Original post in the Access To Justice Tech Fellow Blog.