Access to Justice and Legal Technology

Access to Justice and Legal Technology

Offered: Summer Session: 2015

Course Description: (1 credit):


Research studies repeatedly demonstrate that 80% of the legal needs of the poor in the United States remain unmet, despite existing federal, state, and volunteer programs that provide some civil legal services to low income people. In addition it is well documented that 70% of moderate income individuals cannot afford the high cost of legal fees. The course will examine the sources, resources and methods that use technology to provide legal information, advice and services to meet the needs of individuals, particularly those of low and middle-incomes. Topics include : the digital divide and the risk of two tiers of justice; the role of the courts and law schools in providing legal services; the impact of technology on access to the legal system; basic practices for using technology to increase access; and the implications of technology-based dispute resolution mechanisms outside of the courts; a comparative analysis of the US approach to access to the legal system and other countries.  The class includes guest speakers from around the country, including those who conduct and support legal needs studies, provide grants for legal aid technologies, coordinate online court services and design technological dispute resolution mechanisms. The seminar will be both experiential and experimental. Students will visit courts and legal services offices to observe our current justice system in action in their local communities. Students will be required to write papers that explore innovative approaches to increasing access to justice.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course:

  • Students will have an understanding of the subject of access to justice and the legal system in the US, and a basis for comparing the US with other countries on this issue;

  • Students will have an understanding of how information technology can be used to increase access to the legal systems;

  • Students will have gained an understanding of new career roles that are emerging with courts, non-profits, and legal service agencies that involve the application of technology to the problem of access to the legal system.

Additional Course Background:

Using Technology to Enhance Access to Justice, White Papers from the Legal Services Corporation Technology Summit, June, 2012, published by the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology, Volume 26, Number 1 Fall 2012

FAculty: MArc Lauritsen, Richard Granat, and Stephanie Kimbro

Faculty:

Richard Granat,  Stephanie Kimbro, and Marc Lauritsen 

J.D. Columbia University School of Law
M.S. University of Pennsylvania
B.A. Lehigh University

Richard S. Granat, Director, Digital-LAwyer.com. 

Richard Granat served as Counsel to the first Director of the National Legal Services Program during its formative stages, and has been liaison to the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services since 2003. This Committee is the only organization within the ABA that is focused on the delivery of legal services to clients of moderate income. Richard participated in the Legal Services Corporation's major Technology Summit Meetings in 2000 and 2012 which determined the direction of LSC's use of technology to increase access to justice.

Richard is also the recipient of the 2013 ABA Keane Award for Excellence in eLawyering, the 2010 ABA Louis M. Brown Lifetime Achievement Award for Legal Access, and was named a “Legal Rebel” by the American Bar Association Journal in 2009 and 2013. Richard is a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. and Co-Chair of the eLawyering Task Force, Law Practice Division, American Bar Association.

J.D. Harvard Law School;
B.S..Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Marc Lauritsen is president of Capstone Practice Systems. Capstone advises, trains, and builds systems for top law firms and departments, as well as many nonprofit organizations. Capstone builds custom document drafting systems for law firms, legal departments, and other organizations, delivers training for users and developers, and advises organizations on software selection and project design.

Marc has served as a poverty lawyer, taught in and directed the clinical program at Harvard Law School, has done path- breaking work on document automation and artificial intelligence, and been an executive in several startups.

He has also served as Senior Research Associate for Practice Technology at Harvard Law School where he conducted research on applications of computers to law practice and the implications of that technology for the legal profession. 

Marc is author off The Lawyer's Guide to Working Smarter with Knowledge Tools  (ABA 2010). 

Marc is a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management. and Co-Chair of the eLawyering Task Force, Law Practice Division, American Bar Association.

J.D. University of Dayton School of Law;
M.A., Miami University, Ohio;
B.A.,  Centre College 

Stephanie Kimbro, J.D.

Stephanie Kimbro was the founder of a company that created one of the first virtual law firm platforms for law firms and recently launched a venture to create “legal games” to engage citizens in the legal system. Stephanie is presently a member of Burton Law LLC, where she maintains a virtual law practice in estate planning from her home in Wilmington, North Carolina , 

Stephanie is the recipient of the 2009 ABA Keane Award for Excellence in eLawyering. She was named a "Legal Rebel" by the American Bar Association Journal in  2010.

Stephanie Kimbro is the author of Virtual Law Practice (2010), Limited Scope Legal Services (2012), and Consumer Law Revolution (2013). She is a member of the ABA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services and Secretary of the Law Practice Management section of the ABA.