Technology to solve the access to justice gap
One way to solve the access to justice gap at scale is to apply technology. Consumers around the world have become more comfortable with using digital tools, such as apps or websites, to solve problems on their own. Unlike one-on-one assistance, technology works all day or night. The cost of providing digital help comes in building the tool; helping an additional person once the tool is built costs almost nothing compared to the cost of one-on-one legal help.
Digital tools allow people with legal problems to solve problems:
- on their own schedule
- without needing to travel
- for a predictable cost that is usually much lower than hiring an attorney
- at a scale that can't be matched by one-to-one representation
Just like we go to department store to buy shoes (or order online) instead of visiting a cobbler, many legal problems simply do not need the one-on-one attention of an attorney. Those problems that benefit from full or partial automation can be delivered cheaply and effectively with the help of technology.
Technology focused on closing the access to justice gap includes:
- direct self-help tools, such as document assembly and expert systems, that
help complete court forms or help someone understand their rights in context
- Suffolk's own Court Forms Online
- LawHelpInteractive and the state legal help websites that use it, like: Illinois Legal Aid Online Michigan Legal Help * New York State Court's DIY Forms
- legal information websites or interactive tools (like games) where people can learn about the law
- interactive forums where litigants can get direct help from an attorney, such as ABA Free Legal Answers website
There are also tools that:
- help lawyers do their work more efficiently or cheaply, like:
- help laywers and clients connect, whether pro bono or paid
Before you leave this page, explore some of the tools that are linked above. Think about the ways that the services are like and unlike those offered by traditional legal services.
The access to justice gap and the technology opportunity
- Report on the Summit on the use of Technology to Expand Access to Justice, Legal Services Corporation, 2013
- John O. McGinnis & Russell G. Pearce, The Great Disruption: How Machine Intelligence Will Transform the Role of Lawyers in the Delivery of Legal Services