Access to Justice and Technology Clinics: A 4% solution

Ronald W. Staudt and Andrew P. Medeiros argue that law schools should add Access to Justice and Technology Clinics to their curricula. With “Access to Justice and Technology Clinics: A 4% solution,” Staudt and Medeiros detail Chicago-Kent’s Justice and Technology Practicum, and explain how such clinical courses teach students traditional legal competencies, emerging technical skills, as well as other essential lessons in 21st-century lawyering, while simultaneously building A2J Guided Interviews for use by self-represented litigants.

Ronald W. Staudt is Professor of Law at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and Director of the Center for Access to Justice & Technology. Staudt is a fellow, board member and president of the College of Law Practice Management. He has written numerous articles on incorporating law and technology, including “Access to Justice: Meeting the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants.” Andrew Medeiros is the Access to Justice Fellow at the Center for Access to Justice & Technology. He is also the vice-chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Law Practice Management & Technology committee.

Law practice is an increasingly technological profession, and it is incumbent upon law schools to provide practical guidance on how to serve modern clients. Moreover, despite the efficiency of modern information technology and an oversupply of new JDs, our legal system fails to meet the legal needs of ordinary people, particularly those of low or modest incomes. By teaching students to use and deploy technology to assist in law practice, law schools can better prepare their students for practice in the modern age, as well as assist in expanding access to the legal system. In this article, the authors present the theory behind using technology to increase access to justice, as well as a practical guide on how law schools can implement technology-centric clinical courses.

“This article argues that law schools should add Access to Justice and Technology Clinics: a new type of clinical course that teaches law students how to use and deploy technology to assist law practice. If widely adopted, these clinics will help law students learn core competencies needed in an increasingly technological profession while simultaneously building tools and content to help low income, self-represented litigants overcome serious barriers in their pursuit of justice. In our prototype course at Chicago-Kent, Justice and Technology Practicum, students use A2J Author to build A2J Guided Interviews and in the process students learn legal research, writing and analysis, while also developing important skills such as project management and planning, collaboration, and empathy. In addition to teaching students how to use specific document assembly and automation tools, the course exposes students to an array of technology tools and skills, providing a better understanding of the transformative effect information technology has on the legal practice. Now through CALI’s Access to Justice Clinical Course Project, faculty at six other law schools are designing courses that will build on this experience to be shared with all CALI law schools.”

Staudt and Medeiros 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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