Marc Lauritsen – Liberty, Justice, and Legal Automata

Marc Lauritsen, co-editor of the “Justice, Lawyering, and Legal Education in the Digital Age” symposium, believes that the application of unauthorized practice of law regulations to restrict the use of automated legal systems is bad public policy. But he also argues in his submission to the symposium, “Liberty, Justice, and Legal Automata,” 88 CHI.-KENT L. REV. 945 (2013) (forthcoming), that such restrictions by courts could also be a violation of the programmers’ First Amendment rights.

After developing an understanding of the ways that automated systems could impact the legal services market through 20 years as a lawyer and an educator, Lauritsen founded Capstone Practice Systems to build legal systems for some of the top legal departments in the world. Since, he has become one of the foremost experts on the use of information technology in the legal profession and lectures nationally on the future of law and technology.

Large law firms seek to meet their clients’ needs more efficiently. Small law firms are competing with web entities such as LegalZoom and RocketLawyer for the latent legal market. Legal aid organizations have built a cadre of automated forms to provide more efficient legal services to the poor. However, the future of these initiatives is threatened by the possibility that the development and use of automated legal systems could be the unauthorized practice of law.

“Legal work is increasingly doable by artificial systems built out of software. Providers in both commercial and non-profit contexts are making such systems available for direct use by consumers. Some lawyers and policy makers understandably worry that these developments pose dangers for users and may inappropriately intrude on the prerogatives of the legal profession. This article reviews the extent to which software-based legal assistance systems can or should be suppressed as the unauthorized practice of law in light of constitutional rights of free expression and the social good of access to justice.”

After Lauritsen retraces the case law, the conclusion might seem logical: “There should no more be limits about what we can code about and publish than what we can write about and publish.” But, until the courts and legislatures act to protect legal programming as they have legal publishing, the question will continue to plague legal programmers.

Lauritsen will expand on this article while presenting during the live, in-person symposium on June 15, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. For more information.

Throughout the next two weeks, as the live symposium approaches, the CALI Spotlight Blog will preview another symposium presentation each day:

  • June 5, 2013: Marc Lauritsen, “Liberty, Justice, and Legal Automata”
  • June 6, 2013: William E. Hornsby, Jr., “Gaming the System: Approaching 100% Access to Legal Services Through Online Games”
  • June 7, 2013: Conrad Johnson and Brian Donnelly, “If Only We Knew What We Know”
  • June 8, 2013: Richard S. Granat and Stephanie Kimbro, “The Teaching of Law Practice Management and Technology in Law Schools: A New Paradigm”
  • June 10, 2013: Oliver R. Goodenough, “Developing an e-Curriculum: Reflections on the Future of Legal Education and on the Importance of Digital Expertise”
  • June 11, 2013: Tanina Rostain, Roger Skalbeck and Kevin Mulcahy, “Thinking Like a Lawyer, Designing Like an Architect: PReparing Students for the 21st Century Practice”
  • June 12, 2013: Ronald W. Staudt and Andrew P. Medeiros, “Access to Justice and Technology Clinics: A 4% Solution”
  • June 13, 2013: Hybrid Courses of the A2J Clinic Project
    • Tanina Rostain & Roger Skalbeck, Technology, Innovation and Law Practice: An Experiential Seminar at Georgetown University Law Center
    • Judith Wegner, Becoming a Professional at UNC School of Law
    • Sunrise Ayers, A2J Clinic at Concordia University School of law
  • June 14, 2013: Traditional Clinical Courses of the A2J Clinic Project
    • Conrad Johnson, Mary Zulack & Brian Donnelly, Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic at Columbia Law School
    • Joe Rosenberg, Main Street Legal Services, Elder Law Clinic at CUNY School of Law
    • JoNel Newman & Melissa Swain, Medical Legal Clinic at University of Miami School of Law
  • June 15, 2013: Kevin D. Ashley, “Teaching Law and Digital Age Legal Practice with an AI and Law Seminar;” and Vern R. Walker et al, “Law Schools as Knowledge Centers in the Digital Age”

Professor Ashley and Professor Walker are unable to attend the in-person symposium on June 15, 2013, but their valuable contributions will be published with the printed edition of the Chicago-Kent Law Review that accompanies the live symposium.

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