Law, Technology and Access to Justice (Willis/Johnson)
W 4:30PM - 6:20PM
Technology has become ubiquitous in the legal profession. And technology brings the potential to democratize the law, and improve access to justice to the under-represented poor, working, and middle class people in the US and across the world. However, automation, greater data generation and aggregation, the rise of AI, and predictive algorithms entrench social and economic inequality by design and run the risk of creating an even bigger justice gap. How do attorneys benefit from technology advanced in the Access to Justice space and not cause further harm? How do we create, design, and use tech for good, without selling our clients short and being strategic and sage about the technology choices we make to leverage and enhance our work and services?
This class will help students understand how and why technology is being developed to address the Justice Gap in the US. Students will understand what the Justice Gap is, how it has been defined and measured over time, and then borrow from critical race and gender analysis theory to understand how the models, approaches, and new technologies being developed to close it play out in the lives of communities that have been othered.
Students who participate in this class will learn the history of legal services in the US, how it is financed, the role of politics in how funding is distributed nationally and locally, micro economic models to understand Justice as a market good vs. a public good, and the the roles of technology as a solution to the Justice Gap.
The class will create awareness in the cohort of students on their own intersectionality, helping them identify how their identities might fit into multiple intersectional categories that might enable or bar them from perceiving the realities of the 10% of our population that was in poverty in 2019. All of this will be explored in the context of the Justice system, including legal non profits, Courts, and the role that law and the profession play in empowering or disenfranchising those in need.
We also will borrow and expose the students to new disciplines outside of traditional legal training and methods that are becoming more relevant to attorneys who look to become leaders and innovators in their career--including introductions to design, regulatory frameworks, basic public good microeconomics, decision making analysis (groupthink), AI and how AI tools are being used by law enforcement in harmful ways to immigrant and communities of color-as well as the promise of AI, and ethics. As much as possible the course will expose the students to the most current standards, models, and best practices that stem from different sources and converge in the use of technology in legal services. While the focus is on legal non profit practice, the tools and discussion apply also to the private sector. Students who plan to seek careers that explore how technology can lead to enterprise practice models, who want to innovate as a lifelong dream will also find this class a building block for their career.
ELIGIBILITY/PREREQUISITES: There are no formal prerequisites to take this course. Please come with a strong interest in how technology transforms the law, and for any non law students, a willingness to explain concepts from your respective fields to students with different backgrounds.
CONDUCT/EXPECTATION: Attendance is required. The classes will include participation in group exercises where the students will be expected to contribute. Students will treat each other with respect. The topics we will cover will require being comfortable with discussing race, gender, disability, and lgtbq status.
OFFICE HOURS: Instructors will be available for regularly scheduled virtual office hours. Students may contact the professors to schedule a Zoom or phone call to discuss the course at any time during the semester.
Courts and the Judicial System Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of both substantive and procedural issues in the operation of our legal system; Perform legal analysis in the context of procedural issues and the judicial process; Communicate effectively on topics related to procedure and the judicial process; Demonstrate an understanding of how procedural issues and the judicial process affect all other area of our legal system.
Perspectives on the Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate an understanding of how the law affects, and is affected by, the individual course topic; Perform legal analysis in the context of the individual course topic; Communicate effectively on the legal and other aspects of the individual course topic; Demonstrate the ability to use other disciplines to analyze legal issues relevant to the individual course topic, including economics, philosophy, and sociology, as appropriate.
Administrative and Regulatory Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of administrative and regulatory law and the administrative process, including the role of statutory authorization and work of administrative agencies; Perform legal analysis in the context of administrative and regulatory law; Communicate effectively on topics related to administrative and regulatory law; Demonstrate an understanding of the role administrative and regulatory law play in our legal system and in society as a whole.
Public Interest Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of the varied legal aspects of public interest law; Perform legal analysis in the context of public interest law; Communicate effectively on topics related to public interest law; Demonstrate an understanding of how public interest law is connected to and affected by a wide variety of legal and regulatory structures and doctrines.
Equity and Inclusion Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of the varied legal aspects of equity and inclusion; Perform legal analysis in the context of topics related to equity and inclusion; Communicate effectively on the legal aspects of equity and inclusion; Demonstrate an understanding of how equity and inclusion are connected to and affected by a wide variety of legal and regulatory structures and doctrines.
"Dædalus Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences “Access to Justice” " by Lincoln Caplan, Lance Liebman & Rebecca L. Sandefur,