Lawyering in the Age of Smart Machines
About the Instructor
Quinten Steenhuis, QSteenhuis@suffolk.edu
6 PM-7:50 PM, Wednesdays, Spring 2021 Via Zoom
About the class
The practice of law is increasingly built around digital tools. Lawyers who understand technology have an advantage in the marketplace, both to reduce their operating costs and to help more people. Lawyers today use technology to:
- Run the business side of the law firm, including
- Tracking client information
- Reaching new clients
- Help make decisions
- Reduce repetitive tasks through automation and templates
- Deliver legal services directly to litigants
This class will provide you a survey of the world of legal technology, with special attention to the use of technology to serve underserved markets and to address the access to justice gap. In the second half of the class, you will produce a final project using one of the tools that we learned in class to solve a legal problem.
We will have a variety of guest speakers in this class, representing the public interest, corporate, and academic perspectives on legal technology. Guest names and bios will be provided in advance. No programming experience or other technical background is required.
All readings and course materials will be available online. You may choose to download and print various articles. You will be expected to sign up for free accounts on publically hosted websites, while other accounts will be provided for you. Students are expected to bring an Internet-connected laptop with a modern web browser to each class session.
Consider a second monitor, which will cost less than any of your required textbooks. This will allow you to watch a screenshare while following along on your own computer. I recognize most students will not have this, and I do not expect anyone to buy one if it does not feel affordable. Please let me know when you need me to slow down so you can switch back and forth between the two views.
We may make use of some of the following free websites and software applications:
- GitHub (https://github.com)
- Trello (https://trello.com)
- Teams (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/)
- Docassemble (https://docassemble.org) (Instructor will provide server information)
- QnAMarkup (https://qnamarkup.org)
- Documate (https://documate.org)
Required software will not need to be installed on your computer. You can use a Windows, Macintosh or Linux computer for all course assignments.
- LIT Lab Docassemble Server (For Suffolk Law School students only)
- Legal Tech Assessment
If you would like to stay up to date with the legal tech world, I recommend:
- Reimagining Justice, podcast from Andrea Perry Petersen
- Lawtomatic, curated news by Dean Teninbaum
- Justice Tech Download, curated news from former ABA Journal reporter Jason Tashea
- LawSites, blog by Bob Ambrogi, former editor-in-chief of The National Law Journal
- Law-tech-A2j, blog by Roger Smith (UK)
- Kristen Sonday, COO of Paladin sometimes writes on legal tech and A2J Tech. See also: 70 Female Founders in Legal Tech.