Social Justice Monday: Law Students Improving Access to Justice through the use of Technology, Design, and Collaboration

Social Justice Monday: Law Students Improving Access to Justice through the use of Technology, Design, and Collaboration

November 14, 2016

In the United States, approximately 80 percent of the serious civil legal needs of low-income people are unmet, disproportionately affecting poor communities of color and other marginalized groups. In addition, legal aid is under-resourced and underfunded, resulting in a situation where even people that are able to qualify for representation through a legal aid organization are not getting assistance.

Can the use of technology, human-centered design, and innovative collaborations increase the capability of the civil legal services community to meet the legal needs of poor persons in this country? How can law students learn to use and deploy technology in a meaningful way to close our legal access gap and ensure justice?

This Social Justice Monday featured a group of legal innovators who discussed the challenges in our civil justice system and the need for future lawyers to leverage technology to allow the legal expertise of one lawyer to reach hundreds – or even thousands – of clients at once, wherever possible. The panelists also discussed the ATJ Tech Fellows Program—a national program to educate law students in the use of technology to improve legal service delivery.

Panelists included:

Brian Rowe, Program Manager, Legal Services Technology Assistance Project at Northwest Justice Project. Brian, a lawyer and techie, manages the National Technology Assistance Project and teaches at the University of Washington and Seattle University. Brian lectures on Privacy Law, Cyborg Rights, Ethics, Copyright and Information Policy. Find him online at Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @sarterus.

Destinee Evers, 1L, Seattle U School of Law. Destinee serves on advisory committees for the KCBA and WSBA, including the Access to Justice Board’s Technology Committee, and is the program coordinator for ATJ Tech Fellows. Prior to law school, Destinee spent six years as a civil litigation paralegal with a focus on complex-asset divorce litigation.

Miguel Willis, 3L, Seattle U School of Law. Last year, Miguel organized Seattle U’s first ever Social Justice Hackathon, and the recent TeamChild Hack, collaborative events bringing the legal community together with technologists to build innovative technologies to tackle long-standing problems. Additionally, he serves as the founder and Program Director for ATJ Tech Fellows.

Interested in learning more? Here are related books from the Law Library:

reinventing-the-practice-of-lawReinventing the Practice of Law: Emerging Models to Enhance Affordable Legal Services

Law Library LAW-Reserve (KF336.R45 2014)

Edited By:
Luz Herrera

We all want to make things better. We want to improve our law practices. We want to improve the legal profession. We want to improve our communities. Reinventing the Practice of Law explores ways in which lawyers can change their practices to make things better – for themselves, their clients and their neighborhoods. The book encourages lawyers to step out of the mold and consider how they can create better practices when providing personal legal services. This book offers a useful compendium of essays from nationally known lawyers describing how they have begun to make our legal system more accessible to moderate income clients. These distinguished authors address the practical, ethical, and business dimensions of new ways of providing legal advice and assistance. – From the Publisher

Cover ImageThe Future of Law and eTechnologies

Law Library LAW-New Books (K487.T4F88 2016)

Edited by:
Tanel Kerikmäe
Addi Rull

This book presents groundbreaking discussions on e-residency, cryptocurrencies, scams, smart contracts, 3D printing, software agents, digital evidence and e-governance at the intersection of law, legal policies and modern technologies. The reader benefits from cutting-edge analyses that offer ideas and solutions to some of the most pressing issues caused by e-technologies. This collection is a useful tool for law and IT practitioners and an inspiring source for interdisciplinary research. Besides serving as a practical guideline, this book also reflects theoretical dimensions of future perspectives, as new technologies are not meant to change common values but to accommodate them. – From the Publisher

If you were unable to attend this presentation, it is available via video recording here: Social Justice Mondays Recordings.


How Lawyers Can Use Social Media to Their Advantage

This article from offers tips for using social media to network, build authority, and market your practice.


Who’s protecting your data?

Do you have a right to privacy when storing your data on a cloud server or when sending emails via gmail? And which companies are fighting to protect their users from government intrusions? The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a report “Who Has Your Back?” and lists some of the major companies and what they’re doing to protect your data.

students studying


Legal eBooks

Lighten your book load by using ebooks! Many legal books are now available for mobile devices—whether through services like Amazon’s Kindle platform or through free resources, such as those offered by CALI’s eLangdell Bookstore. The eLangdell Bookstore has a variety of free legal ebooks under the Creative Commons license that are available across multiple platforms: PDF, ePub (for non-Kindle reading devices), Mobi (for Kindle), and even MS Word. A few of the topics covered: property, contracts, basic legal citation, evidence, securities law, Federal Rules of Evidence/Civil Procedure/Criminal Procedure, and ethics of tax law. With your CALI username and password you can often access more e-content, too. If you don’t have a CALI account, contact the reference desk and ask for the CALI code. Save your back the effort and try reading an ebook!


Legal Apps: Study Aids

The lives of law students are not known for copious amounts of free time. Finding time to study can be difficult, but these mobile apps make it much easier to study on-the-go and at your own pace.

Kaplan provides a free MBE flashcard app and instructional videos to help you prepare for the Multistate Bar Exam. The app focuses on torts, contracts, constitutional law, criminal law and procedure, evidence, and real property. It also contains a concept reference guide to common legal topics. This app is certainly one of the best free study aids currently on the market.

Themis Bar Review offers a great bar review app, providing some services free to current law students and offering their full bar prep course to those who have paid for the service. Current law students have access to comprehensive outlines with exam tips, on-demand review lectures, handouts, assessment questions, and apps for iOS, Android, and e-reader devices. First year students are given these materials for civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts, while upper-level students have access to constitutional law, corporations, criminal procedure, evidence, and wills and trusts.

If you’re looking for a less intense study aid than the Kaplan MBE flashcards or Themis, there are several apps under the Law School Dojo brand that offer fun and engaging quizzes. They offer two quizzes free of charge—“Know Your Rights” and the classic Law School Dojo quiz with more generalized questions—as well as several paid apps ($2.99/each) on civil procedure, torts, contracts, criminal law and procedure, income tax, and international law. Law School Dojo is a great way to keep yourself engaged even during those stressful exam periods.


Legal Apps to Keep You Connected

One of the best parts of having legal apps for mobile devices is the ability to stay up-to-date on all the latest news. Whether you’re trying to stay up-to-date with the profession as a whole, or if you’re interested in tracking the latest developments in specific areas like Electronic Discovery, there are several great apps to keep you informed.

LegalEdge from JD Supra is one of the most comprehensive legal news apps available. This free app covers many different areas of the legal profession with updates, news, and recent case filings. Among the many subtopics covered are Labor & Employment, Immigration Law, Legal Marketing, and Communications & Media.

Need your political fix, or just curious about the latest news from the Senate? The Real Time Congress app provides real-time updates from both the House and Senate floors. The app also covers Floor Updates, Whip Notices, Hearings, and provides select government documents for you to read over at your leisure.

With your LexisNexis account, CourtLink provides information on newly filed cases, developments in existing cases, and recent court docket activity. By setting up Alerts and Tracks through CourtLink, you can get the latest news from any device.

Other apps to keep you connected and up to date:


Legal Research Apps

Finding legal resources has never been easier or more mobile. There are many free legal research apps for iOS (iPad, iPhone) and Android devices, and many more available for a small price. Three of the best reference apps for on-the-go lawyers and law students are Fastcase, WestlawNext, and HeinOnline.

While the desktop version of Fastcase  starts subscription pricing around $65/month or $695/year, the mobile apps have much of the same functionality and they are free. All you need to do is register a username and password, and you’ll be able to browse U.S. cases and statutes by citation, phrase, or keyword anywhere you get service.

The WestlawNext app, like Fastcase, delivers powerful research capabilities from any device. The app itself is free to download, however you must have an active Westlaw account to access content. For current law students, this is a fantastic option for mobile research, but be warned: once you have a personal account or an account through your employer, each search on the mobile app will be charged at your firm rates. Still, for law students and those who have access to Westlaw, this is a great app for in-depth reference.

HeinOnline’s mobile app is free for mobile devices and offers the same great performance as the desktop version. Access the database’s content through PDFs, full searching capabilities, and through online law reviews and journals. Need to find something in the fourth volume of the English Statutes of the Realm? Or maybe just a back issue of the American Bar Association Journal? HeinOnline can help you find both!

Other helpful reference apps:


Mobile Apps for Law Students and Lawyers

Coming soon to the library are two e-readers! We’ll soon debut our Nook and Kindle Fire as part of our new digital reading collection, and we hope you will find the resources on these devices helpful and informative as you browse them in the library. Over the next few months, we’ll be profiling some of the different types of apps that are aimed at legal professionals and students. Many will be available on our tablets, but we hope that you will find some of these apps useful enough to use on your own devices, too.

Keep an eye on the Law Library blog to hear about our top app picks, but in the meantime, here are some other excellent resources for techno-savvy lawyers:


Which Federal Appeals Court Cites Wikipedia Most Often?

…the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit tossed out convictions in a cockfighting case — because a juror used Wikipedia to research an element of the crime. The Fourth Circuit, in arriving at its decision, expressed concerns about Wikipedia’s reliability, given its “open-access nature.”

Would you rely on Wikipedia for your research? Would you consider citing to it in a brief? The WSJ did a little research to find out which courts cited Wikipedia and which did not.

Which Federal Appeals Court Cites Wikipedia Most? – Law Blog – WSJ.


Broken Link Blues?

It’s no secret that virtually every website has broken (aka dead) links. (A broken link is one which does not point to a valid web page—you know the “404” error.)  Broken links appear because mistakes happen, content changes, file names and locations change, and external links change.  Fortunately, there are many resources to save you time and aggravation of clicking through to broken links.

Link checkers work much like a search engine spider. They “crawl” a website looking for links that are broken. The spider builds a tree of links leading from page to page until all branches have been explored. Some link checkers will merely highlight the broken links, while the more robust programs produce broken-link reports that enable you to determine where the broken link is located, and why the link is broken. (more…)