Building Better Choice Architecture in Our Courts

Every day, thousands of people find themselves involved in the civil justice system without a lawyer. Presented with complex forms, procedures, and requirements, what often happens is that people don’t know what to do or how to do it.

And when people do nothing or do something wrong, our justice system punishes them.

This is how we’ve always done it, which is a compelling reason to do things differently. What if, when it came to navigating the legal system alone, doing nothing usually led to at least a bit of something?

Hear me out.

A system for another time — and other people

Every day, thousands of people find…


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Source: Pixabay via padrinan/565 images

The Price We Pay to Evade Cancer

Today marks the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We also find ourselves recognizing National Hereditary Cancer Week. The confluence of these two campaigns has a special meaning for me.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been scared at the thought I might die from cancer. I don’t have it — yet. The odds are in its favor, though, not mine.

In the coming months, I will undergo a preventative bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction and a salpingo-oophorectomy. Big words that mean I’m proactively removing my breasts and part of my reproductive system.

I’m scared sh*tless of cancer, and…


An Open Letter to New Law Graduates

An age-old irritant is redefining an industry

Watching the drama unfold around the summer bar exam has been like watching a slow-motion train derailment. Except instead of the scene being some far away, abstract crash, in this vision each train car is right in front of your eyes and in it you can see the faces and hear the screams of an entire generation of an industry. And it just happens to be the generation we’re relying on to save us in the future.

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Pixabay: allenrobert / 1 image

It’s been so hard to watch these last few months that for the first time since becoming a lawyer, I find myself ashamed…


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Source: Pixabay via CQF-avocat

June’s Notes from Natalalleycat

Dearest reader(s),

I’ve missed you. June was a long month, and here we are already more than a week into July. Speaking of, this edition of Notes from Natalalleycat is egregiously late, which is disappointing yet completely on brand. Consider this month’s recap to be as exhausted and behind as I am.

Like I said, manage those expectations.

Court leaders paying lip service to issues of racial injustice

Conversations on systemic bias in the justice system are not a new thing. To much of the public, bias in one way or another is just a standard function of our system.


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Pixabay: congerdesign/3180 images

May’s Notes from Natalalleycat

Oh hey there,

Welcome to Notes from Natalalleycat, a monthly stream-of-consciousness experience in which I share some of the things I thought about last month in law, legal tech, startups, and stuff.

Manage your expectations.

There’s finally something to cheer on from the regulatory reform front.

I took some time away from social media last month to pay a bit more attention to my slow descent into madness, and I returned to find some real movement in reforming regulation of the legal profession.

To start, the State Bar of California Board of Trustees voted to explore the development of a regulatory sandbox after all. I truly never thought this would happen and good thing…


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Source: Pixabay (Pexels / 9152 images)

Work in The Time of COVID-19

What a time to be alive. And what a time to be running low on toilet paper.

COVID-19 is eliciting a response unlike anything I’ve ever seen. In such a short period of time, the pandemic has created global ghost towns. Here in the United States, the lockdown seems to be just getting started. (At least I hope.)

Entire workforces have been moved online in a matter of weeks, and while most Fortune 500s are no stranger to remote work arrangements, smaller organizations and their teams are far less prepared. …


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Source: Pixabay via geralt / 20935 images

We Just Need to Acknowledge That

The Refreshing Sound Of Failure

At the annual Legal Services Corporation (LSC) Innovations in Technology Conference last week, the dismal state of the legal system was front and center in conference discussions. This isn’t particularly surprising given the unique perspective of the legal aid community — a community that, by its very existence, draws attention to the inaccessibility that permeates our justice system.

Pointed and passionate, and unabashedly radicalized, LSC President Jim Sandman spoke of the problem in no uncertain terms.

“The system is failing. Failing. We just need to acknowledge that.”


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Image: Free-Photos / 9091 Images via Pixabay

Takeaways from My 2019 Reading List

I made a promise to myself at the start of 2019 that I was going to read each and every one of those books languishing on my bookshelf. And while most of the other promises I made to myself then met a familiar fate, I actually did plow through some 40+ books last year.

Here (grouped in some order but not one that I can articulate) are my top three takeaways from the better of those books.


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I saw Hamilton off-Broadway a week before Alli Gerkman lost her battle with cancer.

What a fight.

I remember when the production came through Denver a few years ago; I remember her loving it. Not long after, we were asked to include a quote from a theatrical or musical bit in our organization’s 2016 annual report. She immediately picked a quote from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s score:

“The plan is to fan this spark into a flame.”

What a choice.

I said to her, then, “alright one-upper” as I searched the internet for some — any — generic quote about something that…


Rethinking Our Approach to Tech Integration in Our Courts

A Tale of Two Technological Universes

Did you know that Elon Musk and Sam Altman are working to develop Artificial General Intelligence that could “maybe capture the light cone of all future value in the universe”?

Meanwhile, there are still some state court systems where hard copy paper forms, delivered to the courthouse by hand, in triplicate, uphill, in the snow, both ways, on horseback, between the hours of 9:30 and 4:30, is the only way to start a divorce.

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The State of Technology in State Courts

If you’re unfamiliar with state court systems, you may think I’m being hyperbolic. I’m not. OK — maybe a bit. …

Natalie Anne Knowlton

Frequently lost. Occasionally found. Attorney. Professionally crazed cat fan.

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