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Assignments: Lawyering in the Age of Smart Machines

Week 1, 1/27: Introduction to the Access to Justice Gap and our course

Before class:

Focus questions:

  1. How would you define the "Access to Justice Gap"?
  2. What surprised you when you read the report?
  3. How does the reality of access to lawyers fit with the cases you studied and the role of lawyers in law school classes?

During class:

  • Outline of the semester
  • Expectations
  • Building a growth mindset
  • Technology and the Access to Justice Gap

After class:

Turn in a brief reflection

Start working on the Legal Tech Assessment

Week 2, 2/3: Introduction to expert systems. Hello, World exercise in Docassemble

Before class:

  • Visit Explore the links and forms available on the site. Complete at least one download (but do not send to a court).


Optional reading:

In class, we will work through this exercise. An interactive version of it is recorded here if you want to review later.

Turn in the Hello, World and Question Types exercises.

Week 3 2/10: QnAMarkup, Flowcharts. Guest David Colarusso. Mapping process for bad housing conditions

Before class:

Hour 1: Guest David Colarusso. Introduction to DACA and building a flowchart, intro to QnAMarkup

Hour 2: Building a QnAMarkup for bad housing conditions

Week 4 2/17: Documate CEO Dorna Moini

Optional viewing:

Week 5 2/24: Document Assembly Line / Interview Weaver. Critiquing a form. Editing a generated interview.

Before class:

Schedule one-on-one meetings with Professor Steenhuis.

Week 6 3/3: Using plain language. Working on providing user instructions. Guest Caroline Robinson. Trello.

Project proposal is due.

Before class:

In class exercise: creating a cover sheet with user instructions.

Week 7 3/10: Civic Technology, Guest Cyd Harrell

Before class, read:

Optional reading:

Come prepared with up to 3 questions for Ms. Harrell before class.

Week 8 3/17: Using Office 365 in a law firm (Self-guided class at request of the University)

No class meeting this week as the University has requested we do asynchronous learning. Please work through the exercises below on your own.

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

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

After class: don't forget to form a team of 2 or 3 to demonstrate a FREE tool you have identified before next week.

Week 9 3/24: 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.

If you have trouble finding a completely free tool, a very low cost tool or tool with a free trial would also be fine.

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

Add your name and tool before class

Week 10 3/31: Ethics and Software quality issues. Standup

Optional reading:

Week 11: 4/7: Advanced docassemble features / Workday / Standup

Content and readings TBA based on YOUR questions, final project, and feedback

Week 13 4/21: 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.

May 7th, 11:59 PM

Final project is due.

Use this link to turn in your final project.