Skip to main content

Weekly Readings and Assignments: Legal Tech for Small Firms


This class is subject to change! Please check readings at least the week before something is due and double-check whether a class is remote or in-person by monitoring the Microsoft Teams channel.

Week 1, August 23: Course overview and Introduction#

Before class:

  1. Create a Clio Academic Access Program account ( and poke around the site for a few minutes

  2. Read Troman's short article, "Law Firms Are Inefficiency Factories, Automation is the Cure" (, Be prepared to discuss it.

  3. Read the 2020 Clio Legal Trends Report,

Dicussion questions for Troman:#

  • What is the author's main point?
  • What do you think of the author's main point? How different is a law firm from a restaurant?
  • Can you think of a better metaphor than "inefficiency factory"?
  • Do you agree that automation will cost law firms money?
    • How much room is there for law firms to expand business?
  • Why do people outsource things anyway?
  • Do people hire lawyers for the same reasons that they hire a painter or go to a restaurant?
  • How has automation shaped the rest of society?

Discussion questions for Clio report:#

  • The Clio report introduces several frameworks for thinking about business growth:
    • VUCA
    • Marginal gains
    • Which of these were helpful?
  • The report states that "legal services have been delivered in a way that's been unaffordable, inconvenient, and difficult for potential clients to know whether they have a legal problem worth pursuing in the first place— all of which function as critical barriers to hiring a lawyer." Do you agree? Why or why not?
  • Why do lawyers only earn 15% of their day?
  • What is the product-market fit problem?
  • Do you agree that there is a vast latent legal market?
    • What are some reasons why that market may or may not exist that are not explored in the report?
  • 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 surprised you about how lawyers spend their day?
  • Based on what you learned from the report, how would you work to get clients?

Week 2, 8/30: (In person) Hello, World in Docassemble#

Before class, read:

Optional viewing:

In class discussion#

  • The access to justice gap
  • What is document automation?
  • What is it good for?

In class hands-on work#

In-class exercise: Hello, World.

For a recording of this in-class exercise for later reference, you can view:


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 by week 3.

If there is time during class: Start working on the Clio University (16 mini "courses", CPE01-16). The completed Clio coursework is due by the end of week 5. 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.

9/6 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 9/13: Legal Tech Quality Issues; Guest Speaker: Jared Jaskot, Yo Tengo Bot (remote guest)#

Before class:


Focus questions#

  1. What obligations does an app have that a paper form does not?

Turn in Docassemble exercise from week 2

Week 4 9/20: Plain language, Guest Caroline Robinson#

  • Clio University learning modules
  • Final project proposal

Before class:


  • In class exercise: reviewing plain language on
  • Getting started on the final project. Review of rubric, suggestions on outlining
  • Schedule a one-on-one meeting with Professor Steenhuis

Narrow down ideas for your final project.

See guidance here.

Week 5 9/27: Making a legal problem flowchart; QnAMarkup; Guest David Colarusso#

Before class:

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.

Week 6 10/4: (CHANGE to In person class) Introduction to ALWeaver; Guest Joshua Lenon, Lawyer in Residence at Clio#


Before class, read


If you haven't yet, start outlining your final project. Start thinking of a natural way to ask the questions, information that your user will need to complete the interaction, and follow-up steps that they will need to take.

Form groups

Form groups for week 8's Free Tool Fiesta

Week 7 10/12: (Remote class? TBD) Project Management / Trello; Class meets at regular time on Tuesday, Guest Ivy Grey, Wordrake#


Before class:

Monday schedule, class meets at regular time on Tuesday

  • draft question order and user instructions for your form. (15% of final project grade)

Recommended further reading for those interested, only:

Week 8 10/18: Introduction to GitHub; Microsoft Office 365 for small firm practice#

Before class,

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

To access Microsoft Flow, go to and click on the "All apps" arrow, and then the "Forms" and "Power Automate" links, respectively.

After class:


Your form (if using a form) should be properly labeled. You should request a review from another student to ensure labeling is correct.

Start work

Choose an app for the "app teardown" exercise due Week 10. See description here.

Potential starting places:

Week 9 10/25: Free Tool Fiesta#


Presentations for Free Tool Fiesta

See instructions here


You should be able to run your form through the Weaver at least once. Correct any form errors or mislabeled variables.

  • Schedule a second one-on-one meeting with Professor Steenhuis

Week 10 11/1: The Intersection of Design Thinking and Legal Work (Guest Nicole Bradick)#

  • App "teardown" and extended reflection

Before class:


Your form should be a package in your Docassemble playground. You should be able to start editing question text and adding refinements.

Week 11: 11/8: GitHub review; Ethics; Alternative Legal Research#

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?


Your form should run through to the end, although it may not have a logical question order and a lot of information may still be missing.

Week 12 11/15: Legal App Maturity Model; In-class workday; Review of advanced capabilities of Docassemble#


Come to class prepared to troubleshoot specific problems in your final project.

Before class, read

Week 13 11/22: Presentation of student projects.#

  • Legal Tech Assessment
  • Final project presentation (but not the final project)

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.


Your form should be in the final refinement stage now. Questions should be in roughly the right order. You should be ready to send it to a peer or a subject matter expert for feedback.

November 29th: No class, Thursday Schedule.#


You should have feedback from 2-3 peers or at least one subject matter expert to triage and start implementing.

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

Friday December 10th, 5 PM#


Final project is due. Turn in through link in Teams.


Your form should meet at least a "useful prototype" by this stage. Write down any goals that you did not have time to implement, especially feedback from a subject matter expert.