International Women’s Day: UniCourt Takes A Strong Stand For Women’s Equality In Legal Profession International Women’s Day: UniCourt Takes A Strong Stand For Women’s Equality In Legal Profession

UniCourt is committed to diversity and to the struggle for women’s equality. We take this stance not only because this struggle matches the values of the men and women who work for UniCourt, but because we know that equality and diversity are good for our business.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day at UniCourt, we find ourselves both impatient with the rate of women’s progress in the legal profession and cheering on what is sure to be a more equitable future. We bemoan the present because, while women have reached parity with men when it comes to enrollment in law schools, they are still struggling with a “boy’s club” atmosphere in the legal profession. There are fewer women working as lawyers than you might expect given the rate of enrollment in law schools, and those who do find careers in law have difficulty landing higher paying jobs and leadership positions.
The glass ceiling remains intact. The pay gap persists and women are still underrepresented as partners, judges, and deans.
You might ask at this point, given the state of the legal profession today, why is UniCourt so optimistic?
We’re optimistic because we know there are huge changes coming to the legal profession and, according to an article written last year in the Financial Times, most law firms know this too. They are bracing themselves for what they expect will be a technological revolution in the industry.
This is good news for women. Why? Because, it turns out that diversity and profitable innovation have been demonstrated to go hand in hand.
According to an article published by the Boston Consulting Group in April of last year, studies show that companies with higher gender diversity are 15% more likely to embrace innovation and produce a higher ROI or return on investment.
“Companies with higher levels of diversity get more revenue from new products and services.”
As women take to the streets to rally, prepare seminars and discussion groups, and fight for equality in boardrooms, UniCourt is glad to stand beside them as a company. We know that as more women break the glass ceiling they’ll bring a willingness to try new technologies. This will help accelerate the technological transformation that is taking place in the legal profession. UniCourt looks forward to working with women to innovate the legal profession.

Our Judicial System Is Failing in Its Mandate to Provide the Public with Access to Court Records Our Judicial System Is Failing in Its Mandate to Provide the Public with Access to Court Records

This post is the first in a three part series on how public access to court records is becoming an important access to justice issue. This post will focus on the fundamental right to access court records. Part 2 will focus on the high cost of obtaining court records. Part 3 will focus on how obstacles to obtaining court records are stifling innovation. The sum of these three issues are having a significant impact on access to justice.
Openness and transparency are fundamental to our legal system, yet it is a sad fact that today you can easily find almost anything on the Internet EXCEPT court records. It is easier to order groceries, book an airplane ticket, or check out a library book online, than it is to look up whether your doctor has ever been sued for malpractice, find out how many divorce cases your attorney has handled, or look up whether a potential business partner has a history of fraud.
It should not be this way. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the public has a fundamental right to review and monitor what happens in open court.
In Craig v. Harney, for example, the Supreme Court chastised a trial court judge who had jailed a newspaper reporter for a story that was highly critical of the judge. The Supreme Court rejected the trial judge’s explanation that the reporter had “interfer[ed] with the due administration of justice” and Justice Douglas explained that it was for the public, and not the judge, to determine whether the reporter’s criticism’s of the judge were justified:
A trial is a public event. What transpires in the court room is public property. . .  Those who see and hear what transpired can report it with impunity. There is no special perquisite of the judiciary which enables it, as distinguished from other institutions of democratic government, to suppress, edit, or censor events which transpire in proceedings before it.
Craig v. Harney, 331 U.S. 367, 374 (1947) (emphasis added).
Similarly in Cox Broadcasting v. Cohn, the Supreme Court struck down a state statute that sought to restrict reporters and others from publishing records of criminal trials. Justice White explained that the statute was unconstitutional because ultimately the public was the final authority for reviewing court proceedings and so it was improper to restrict the public’s right to access court records:
Public records [of court proceedings] by their very nature are of interest to those concerned with the administration of government, and a public benefit is performed by the reporting of the true contents of the records by the media. The freedom of the press to publish that information appears to us to be of critical importance to our type of government in which the citizenry is the final judge of the proper conduct of public business.
Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U.S. 469, 495 (U.S. 1975) (emphasis added).
In these cases from many decades ago, along with many others, the Supreme Court focused on ensuring that the public has access to the records of court proceedings.
Furthermore, many State Constitutions also enshrine the principle of open access. Perhaps the most explicit statement of the principle is found in the Florida Constitution, which expressly spells out that, aside from narrowly construed exceptions, everyone has the right to copy any court record:
Every person has the right to inspect or copy any public record made or received in connection with the official business of any public body, officer, or employee of the state, or persons acting on their behalf, except with respect to records exempted pursuant to this section or specifically made confidential by this Constitution. This section specifically includes the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government.
Florida Constitution, Article 1, Section 24 (emphasis added).
The California Constitution also expressly provides for public access:  
The people have the right of access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to public scrutiny. (emphasis added)
California Constitution, Article 1, Section (3)(b)(1) (emphasis added).
Similarly, Article 1, Section 10 of the Washington State Constitution directs that justice in all cases “shall be administered openly” and Article 1, Section 11 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania states that “[a]ll courts shall be open.”
But today, despite these explicit constitutional provisions and many decades after the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed the public’s right to access court records, many courts provide only limited access — many court records are still not online at all — and the process for finding, obtaining, and working with federal and state court records is expensive, cumbersome, confusing, and grossly outdated.
In the digital age, our courts have failed in their mandate to provide public access to court data, and we should no longer accept the status quo.

At UniCourt (@UniCourtInc), we think these issues are crucially important to ensuring access to justice. That is why we are on a mission to provide EVERYONE meaningful access to their “public property” — the records of what happens in our federal and state courts. We build tools that harness modern technology to ensure the public’s time-honored, traditional right to scrutinize the courts and to support the public’s fundamental ability to ensure that justice is done.

UniCourt at LegalTech, San Francisco (June 13th – 14th) UniCourt at LegalTech, San Francisco (June 13th – 14th)

We’re excited to announce that UniCourt is an official exhibitor at #LegalTech West Coast 2016.
Don’t miss a chance to visit us at our Booth No. 321 and win one month subscription to UniCourt – one-stop-solution for all your legal needs, at absolutely no cost!
What do you need to avail this offer?
Just share this blog post on Twitter / Facebook and post the status as comment below and show up at our booth in #LegalTech
Why stop by our booth at LegalTech?

Legal Analytics: Get a sneak peek at our upcoming Analytics feature which will show never before seen data insights at the State Courts level

Average length of cases by case types from over 15 years of data
Trending case counts by case types and jurisdiction
Case loads for Judges
Trending Attorney and Law Firm representation counts by party types/years

Instant update of PACER and State cases: See how fast real-time case updates happen directly from the court on a click of a button.

Want to attend LegalTech and don’t have a pass?
We have a few free passes to the Exhibit Hall to give away, so get in touch soon. Email us at legaltech@unicourt.com

About LegalTech:
LegalTech is a premier conference for showcasing cutting-edge technology in the legal community for maximizing efficiency and moving the practice of law ahead through innovative solutions. LegalTech stands out as the leading technology exposition in the legal arena, where attendees see live demonstrations, interact with exhibitors, and take back to their office and their practice a wealth of invaluable information and ideas.