Modern legal practice has evolved to include technology not just as a tool for enhancing business flows, but as a field that increasingly touches on a variety of cases, something Flinders University is looking to equip its graduates to handle.
The university has partnered with artificial intelligence software creator Neota Logic to launch a platform for a new course that has law students develop apps for not-for-profit organisations over the semester.
Students not only increase their tech literacy before they enter the workforce, but working apps are produced to improve the delivery of NFPs’ services.
Associate professor Tania Leiman, dean of Law at Flinders’ College of Business, Government and Law, said the partnership with Neota is an exciting opportunity to help students work on real projects with actual clients.
“Using technology to increase the availability of legal information and the capacity to scale provision of legal services has potential to increase access to justice for the many people for whom legal advice is currently out of reach,” Leiman said.
One of the apps developed for Victoria Legal Aid, dubbed the Client Court Reporter, helps lawyers quickly generate a latter for clients which summarises court orders in plain language to help clients understand key information about their cases.
Although this work isn’t exactly difficult for lawyers to do themselves, it can be time-consuming and repetitive, and thus expensive.
Another app, developed with Disability Justice Advocacy, helps inform people with disabilities as to whether they’ve experienced discrimination as defined in relevant state and federal legislation.
The app also helps Disability Justice Advocacy reach more people by automating the provision of tailored, relevant legal information.
Fitzroy Legal Service also partnered with Flinders student to build an app that points people experiencing family violence to the relevant legal and non-legal information and support services. It can also help people understand the eligibility for Family Violence Intervention Orders.
At the end semester, these organisations will have the opportunity to deploy the apps into their everyday practice. The apps projects are also being submitted to the Global Legal Hackathon.
Retail Drinks Australia CEO and 2019 Global Legal Hackathon judge Julie Ryan said changes in the business world are driving high demand for technological know-how in the legal industry.
“New technologies are emerging and the pressure is on for law firms, in-house lawyers and legal businesses to operate more efficiently and effectively,” Ryan said.
“Technology is changing the practice of law and so it needs to form part of the study of law.”