Ladies of Authorized Method: Hon. Decide Samantha Jessner

The Legal Technology Resource Center’s Women of Legal Tech initiative aims to promote diversity and celebrate women in legal technology. This initiative started in 2015 with a list of innovators and leaders in legal technology. With this year’s additions, this list now includes 132 talented and influential women leaders. Every Monday and Wednesday we will introduce a woman from our class from 2021. This week we have Hon. Judge Samantha Jessner!

Hon. Judge Samantha Jessner is the vice chairman of the elected Justice of the Supreme Court of California, Los Angeles County.

What are three points that describe you?

  1. I have led the court’s technological innovation efforts for the past six years.
  2. I’ve trained hundreds of law enforcement officers in forensic technology.
  3. I am only the third woman to be elected vice presiding judge of the Los Angeles Supreme Court. This is the largest trial in the nation and the first woman of color.

How is teleworking / quarantine going for you?

The court has continued to work throughout the pandemic and has remained open and accessible, but with limited operations. The court’s technological innovation made it possible for the court to offer more online and remote services with relative ease.

How did you get into legal engineering?

A few years ago I was asked to be responsible for judicial communications when the court carried out a long overdue overhaul of its technology platforms. My role then expanded to include responsibility for legal education, which is a significant endeavor as the court has approximately 600 judicial officers, many of whom are unfamiliar with technology. Over the years, I also served as a member of the Information Technology Advisory Committee to the Justice Council of the California Information Technology Committee, engaging in national court technology policy making and innovation.

What projects have you been focusing on lately?

Conduct litigation remotely, from both jurors and non-jurors, including jury selection. Prior to the pandemic, the thought of having judges selected via a remote technology platform would have been characterized as blasphemy. Additionally, I have focused on the need to ensure access to justice for the many court users who do not have the means or ability to remotely access the court in a safe, effective and efficient manner.

Is there a legal technical resource that really helped you when you started in the field?

The annual eCourts conference and the National Center for State Courts.

What do you see as the most important emerging technology right now, legal or not?

A platform that effectively integrates audio and video appearances into a court’s case management system.

What advice would you give other women interested in getting into legal technology?

Your voice is valuable and important. In the legal system, women make up the majority of court staff. Women know how a courtroom works and what employees and judicial officers need to successfully carry out their duties and responsibilities. In developing and implementing effective court technology, there is a great need for the collective voices of women who know how a courtroom works and what information is needed and when. Get involved and know that you are giving an important area high value.

Greet another legal engineering woman who you admire or have learned from!

Judge Michelle Williams Court, Judge Amy Yerkey and Sherri Carter, CEO of LASC.

Register for the Women of Legal Tech Summit 2021!

Attend the ABA Women Rainmakers Committee’s two-day symposium from March 3, 2021 to March 4, 2021 to help bridge the gender gap in legal technology. On both days, the 2021 Women of Legal Tech Honorees from the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center will be recognized. Find inspiration in Ignite-style sessions with legal technology leaders, breakout sessions with executives in the field, and interactive workshops.

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