Assignments: Legal Tech for Small Firms

Week 1, August 24: Course overview and Introduction

Before class:

  1. Create a Clio Academic Access Program account (https://www.clio.com/partnerships/academic-access/) and poke around the site for a few minutes
  2. Read Troman's short article, "Law Firms Are Inefficiency Factories, Automation is the Cure" (https://www.artificiallawyer.com/2018/06/11/law-firms-are-inefficiency-factories-automation-is-the-cure/), perma.cc. Be prepared to discuss it.

After class:

  1. Write a brief reflection about the readings and class discussion.

Week 2, 8/31: Introduction to Case Management Systems

During class: Start working on the Clio University (16 mini "courses", CPE01-16). The completed Clio coursework is due by the end of the semester. It should take between 5-10 hours to go through all of the exercises. You will be very busy at the end of the semester, so please start it early.

Before class, read

Focus questions:

  • What aspects of technology did the report say are most underused by lawyers?
    • Did anything surprise you in this list?
    • What do you think would be the biggest advantage for a lawyer to learn?
  • What is the lawyer's funnel?
  • What surprised you about how lawyers spend their day?
  • Based on what you learned from the report, how would you work to get clients?

After class: write a brief reflection.

9/7 Labor Day, no class

Enjoy the holiday! After Monday, this may be a good week to get started with the Legal Tech Assessment, which is due on the final day of class.

Expect to spend a few days working through the training and assessment portions. You can retake the assessment portion as needed.

Week 3 9/14: Guest Speaker: Diego Alcala. Assessing legal technology

We will spend the first 1/2 of class talking with Diego Alcala, a small firm and technology-oriented lawyer in Puerto Rico.

The second half we will discuss assessing legal software and software quality issues.

Before class:

Come prepared with at least 3 questions. Submit your questions in advance of class.

View the questions others have submitted

After class: write a brief reflection

Week 4 9/21: Community Lawyer Basic Skills, Guest Speaker Thomas "Toma" Officer

Before class:

  • Spend some time on Community.Lawyer, which is a free tool for building automated documents.The best way to get started with Community.lawyer is by completing their Document Automation 101 tutorial.

Need inspiration? Check out these Case Studies of how other legal services professionals are using Community.lawyer. Want to talk with the Community.lawyer team or meet others building legal practice automations, join the Community.lawyer slack.

After class: write a brief reflection.

Week 5 9/28: Hello, World in Docassemble

Please make sure to allocate plenty of time before class to complete the exercises!

  • Try it at least a few days in advance
  • Ask for help on Slack when you get stuck (follow the "30 minute" rule). Keep in mind I will be more available to help 9-5, during the week.

Before class:

Docassemble is the foundation for Community.Lawyer, and allows much more advanced automations. It is also completely free and customizable, but takes more time and experience to develop in and to host.

Make sure you have an account on the Suffolk LIT Lab Docassemble server, https://apps-dev.suffolklitlab.org. NOTE: this server is for Suffolk Law Students, only.

Follow-along with the training from this year's Docacon below. You only need to listen until about 1:45, which covers the Hello, World exercise and the logic section. You can skip the Docx example which takes place in the second half of the training.

The video includes breaks, questions, and introduction which you do not need to watch. Feel free to watch at a higher speed as well.

Also see the training materials, which are hosted as part of this legal tech text book.

We will meet for a shorter period, 60 minutes, this week to answer your questions about the Hello, World exercise.

After class: do the stretch goals for both the Hello, World and the Logic sections of the training.

Turn in a hello_world.yml and logic.yml file via the Microsoft Form.

Week 6 10/5: Introduction to Microsoft Forms and Power Automate; Discussion about billing, accounting, and business aspects of running a law firm

Please make sure to allocate plenty of time before class to complete the exercises!

  • Try it at least a few days in advance
  • Ask for help on Slack if you get stuck.

Before class:

You have access to Microsoft Power Automate and Microsoft Forms through the Suffolk Office 365 portal.

To access both tools, go to https://portal.microsoftonline.com and click on the "All apps" arrow, and then the "Forms" and "Power Automate" links, respectively.

In class:

We will have some interactive troubleshooting time. Then we will build upon the out-of-class exercises to build an app that might be useful for a real-world small law firm.

  1. Build an intake form with branching logic
  2. Add a calendar item with the date that someone wants to meet with you

After class: write a brief reflection.

Week 7 10/13: Building Your Own Chatbot

Monday schedule, class meets at regular time on Tuesday

Go to qnamarkup.org. Read the syntax and watch the video intro.

Take 20 min to review the Syntax page and work through a few of the examples found in the Quick Start Guide.

Open THIS file for our class activity.

After class: turn in your work.

Week 8 10/19: Free Tool Fiesta

In groups of 2 (or 3 if necessary) students will demonstrate a FREE tool they have identified that would be useful to small firms/solos. Be able to show off how it works and answer questions about its features and the costs associated with it. Sign up here.

You may find the following websites a good resource for identifying free tools, but please expand your search!

  1. FINAL PROJECT PROPOSAL DUE TODAY AT 2PM. Turn in your proposal here.
  2. Turn in a brief reflection.

Week 9 10/26: Community Lawyer, Advanced Skills

For many students, using Community.lawyer will make sense for their final project. To prepare for this meeting, spend some time looking at Community.lawyer's documentation for a sense of what questions you might have about how to build conditional logic into your app.

You should feel to reach out to the Community.lawyer team directly (there are buttons to schedule a call with Community.lawyer all over their website). They are available to help you think through how to structure your automation.

Turn in a brief reflection.

Week 10 11/2: Guest Speaker: Nora Al Haider, Stanford Legal Design Lab: The Intersection of Design Thinking and Legal Work

Nora Al Haider of the Stanford Legal Design Lab will share some of the lab's work and answer your questions in the first 1/2 of class. Come prepared with questions about legal design.

Before class:

Listen to this interview of Nicole Bradick of Theory & Principle.

After class: write a brief reflection.

Week 11: 11/9: Guest speaker: Mike Whelan, Alternative Legal Research Tools; use of AI in legal work

Discussion with guest, Mike Whelan and author of Lawyer Forward and a new e-book with Clio, "Designing your Law Firm's New Normal".

Before class:

View your classmates suggestions.

Check out this post on alternative legal research tools and click the links/watch the embedded videos.

After class: run a search for Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe v. Wade, or any other landmark constitutional law cases that interest you in at least 2 search tools that are new to you, and one that you know well (such as Lexis/Westlaw).

What do you like about the alternative tool? What is missing?

Write a brief reflection.

Week 12 11/16: Document Automation with Clio

Write a brief reflection.

Week 13 11/23: Presentation of student projects.

Please come prepared to deliver a 5 minute presentation of your work. See final project guidelines for more information about how to structure your presentation. Slides are welcome, but not required.

You do not need to have your final project finished. Be ready to demonstrate what you have, explain your process, and tell us about the work that is still to come. A working prototype will be able to get more constructive feedback, but your grade will not be based on how complete the work is, but rather the quality of the presentation.

Come prepared to present/provide constructive critique of classmates' work.

Legal Tech Assessment is due.

Clio University materials are due.

November 30th: No class, Wednesday Schedule.

During the week, get started incorporating feedback on your final project.

December 7th, 5 PM

Final project is due.