I really feel very strongly about making sure peoples’ voices are being heard in big conversations. ~ Natalie Byrom
Dr. Natalie Byrom (@NatalieByrom) is exactly the kind of expert every justice system deserves. She combines an unwavering commitment to protecting and advancing the rights of vulnerable people with a relentless dedication to evidence and evaluation to evaluation and measurement. Her work is shining a light into the “black box” of our justice system to search for answers to what she considers to be fundamental questions about how the system is working, who it is working for, and who is being left behind.
Natalie is deeply involved with the massive £1 billion project under way to modernize the Courts of England & Wales. While justice systems in many places are struggling with rising costs and dwindling access, the cradle of the common law system is in the midst of what is being called the most ambitious change in the world.
In this episode, we go deep into a range of topics from rights for vulnerable groups to the risks and benefits of technology for public justice systems. I hope you’ll notice that Natalie isn’t satisfied talking about these things in an abstract or conceptual way; she is relentless in her pursuit of evidence and measurement. It’s a refreshingly unique approach that will be key to providing concrete solutions for today’s most difficult justice challenges.
- Legal rights and access to justice for vulnerable people.
- Legal aid and legal clinics.
- Combining disciplines like social work and rights advice & advocacy.
- Empirical research on legal rights and access to justice.
- Modernization of the Courts of England & Wales.
- ADR and access to justice.
- Technology and access to justice.
- Open data, data protection and privacy in justice.
The Quiz for this episode is here
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- Unprecedented court reform in England and Wales
- How Natalie describes her work
- The Legal Education Foundation
- The LEF and the “law of everyday life”
- Natalie’s early interest in law
- Law as a tool to help people be heard, secure their entitlements, keep them safe and hold people in power to account
- Homeless clinics
- Community legal centres
- Mental health trust and early resolution
- Mental health patients and compounding problems (housing, benefits, etc)
- PhD in understanding the impacts of cuts to government funding for legal advice and assistance
- Law centres & legal aid
- Social workers discovering families in crisis often had underlying legal problems
- Blending research or academia with a sense of justice, rights and outcomes
- The justice system as a vital safety net
- Data on outcomes of tribunals hearing appeals on denials of benefits
- What Natalie would say to herself if she could send an email back in time
- The supervision reports from her torts tutor
- How the law impacts on people and how we can make it better
- The rule of law
- Using data to back up our claims about the rule of law
- Evaluating the law to see if it’s operating the way it’s supposed to
- Using data to give a voice to people who are underrepresented in the justice system and justice reform discussions.
- Empirical approaches to the study of law
- Harvard Access to Justice Lab
- Anecdote, argument and principle vs rigorous empirical approaches
- Culture clash between scientific, empirical approaches and the traditional approach to law
- Access to justice
- Cost, complexity and delay
- Research on people making no attempt to seek help for legal problems
- The cost of lawyers
- The complexity of justice processes
- Backlogs in tribunals dealing with benefit or immigration appeals
- The reform program in the Courts of England & Wales
- LEF Report Digital Justice: HMCTS data strategy and delivering access to justice
- Global justice trends including ADR, technology, online dispute resolution
- BC’s Civil Resolution Tribunal as a leading example of justice system redesign
- Tensions between ADR and upholding people’s rights in the public justice system
- Inequalities of power and ADR
- The role of courts as the determination of competing rights
- Is the function of the public justice system just to promote resolution?
- Tailored legal information and education to support informed choice between ADR and rights through traditional justice processes
- Risking the truncation of the common law as a consequence of reduced access
- The early beginnings of the Court Reform Program
- Austerity and cost-cutting costs in the justice system
- Brexit and its impacts on the Court Reform Program
- Prisons and Courts Bill (2016-17)
- The Court Reform Program as a “spend to save” initiative
- Judicial leadership or support in an initiative emphasizing reduced costs
- Austerity as the impetus, but not the aim, of court reform
- The LEF’s activities in the context of the Court Reform Program
- Measuring the impact of technology on justice system users
- The Equality Act (England)
- Asking justice system users about their demograpics, characteristics, disabilities, etc.
- Four constituent components of access to justice
- Example of empirical frameworks for measuring access to justice
- Embedding data capture and measurement directly into the justice system
- Developing the Detail- Evaluating the Impact of Court Reform in England and Wales on Access to Justice FINAL
- Evaluation as a continuous, real-time exercise in justice
- Building data-collection and evaluation into reformed justice processes
- Evidence to support justice policy making and government decision-making
- Data collection as a means to move back on the dispute resolution continuum toward prevention
- Data collection as a means to prove the business case for justice reform
- Risks and downsides of collecting more data in the context of justice processes
- Developing trust and best practices around justice system data collection
- Judicial independence and justice system data
- Protection and appropriate use of user data in the justice context
- Open justice and the openness principle
- LEF Digital Justice Report
- Balancing openness and personal privacy
- Looking ahead in the Court Reform Programme for England & Wales
- How Natalie defines success
- Natalie’s view on “tough choices” she made to get where she is today
- Following passions to find work you really care about
- Cramming a week’s worth of work into 3 hours
- How Natalie looks after herself
- Cat memes and cute animal videos as the way forward
- @RateYourDog on Twitter
- What advice Natalie would give someone who wants to break into her area of work
- “Before my work in the law is done, I want to…”
- Invisibilia by NPR
- Natalie’s requests for listeners / call to action