Kate Martin, Law Library for the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, is organizing an Access to Justice (A2J) Conference in Baltimore on March 21st. The conference is through the local law librarian chapter, LLAM, and anyone familiar with Kate should know that she tends to develop very strong programs that take on a life of their own (Martin established the Private Law Libraries Summit a few years ago.) More information on signing up for the conference will come in the next few weeks, but put a placeholder in your calendar for March 21st and get out to Maryland to enjoy the first day of Spring.

Kate describes the relationships between law librarians and A2J as “a core value of law librarians – and it is becoming more critical as professional legal assistance becomes more expensive and beyond the reach of even average, middle-class Americans.” Many of the public facing law libraries have seen the increase of self-represented litigants over the past decade, and Martin believes this trend will only continue to grow. However, she does not think that the responsibilities of A2J lie on the shoulders of court librarians alone. Just because you may be a firm librarian, Martin believes you,  too, can help with A2J issues.

“We’re especially targeting private law librarians by showing them a way to use A2J to raise their profile within their firms and support their firm’s pro bono efforts,” says Martin. “A2J will also offers a way to give back to the community.”

The conference is being marketed on the national level, and will be the first symposium on A2J that is completely organized for librarians. There will be several tracks covering A2J issues and hands-on sessions discussing and advising on the current issues. Martin already has speakers coming in from Alaska, Montana, Minnesota, Utah, and Georgia, with more lining up across the country to speak and join in on the discussion. The registration (I’ll post a follow-up when the official announcement goes out), will only cost $65, and the seminar will be held at the University of Baltimore during Spring Break, so you won’t even have to fight students as you make your way around the building.