IIT Chicago-Kent hosts symposium on “Justice, Lawyering and Legal Education in the Digital Age”

“Justice, Lawyering and Legal Education in the Digital Age” is the theme of a symposium hosted by IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Center for Access to Justice and Technology and the Chicago-Kent Law Review on June 15 from 9 am – 1 pm. The half-day program will be held at the law school, 565 West Adams Street (between Clinton and Jefferson streets), in conjunction with the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI®)’s 2013 Conference for Law School Computing.

Papers presented at the symposium will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Chicago-Kent Law Review co-edited by IIT Chicago-Kent Professor Ronald W. Staudt, director of the Center for Access to Justice and Technology, and Marc Lauritsen, founder of Capstone Practice Systems and former director of clinical programs at Harvard Law School. According to Staudt and Lauritsen, “The legal profession is endangered. Law schools are in trouble. New lawyers are unprepared for economic and technological reality.”

At the symposium, authors featured in the newest edition of the law review will dissect these overlapping problems and propose new solutions such as new law school courses that teach practical legal technology tools. Authors will also answer questions, expand on their articles and examine ways in which technology can be used to meet the legal needs of low-income and self-represented litigants.

For example, Marc Lauritsen will discuss whether software-based legal assistance tools could be suppressed as the unauthorized practice of law. Similarly, Will Hornsby, staff counsel at the American Bar Association, will explore whether online games could hold the key to improving access to justice. There will also be a discussion on how traditional law school curricula and the legal profession can be enhanced by the development and adoption of new clinical programs like those proposed in Ronald Staudt’s lead article, Access to Justice and Technology Clinics: A 4% Solution.

Symposium presenters also include faculty members from the City University of New York (CUNY), Columbia University, Concordia University, Georgetown University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Miami—six law schools selected in January 2013 to participate in the Access to Justice Clinical Course Project (A2J Clinic Project). The A2J Clinic Project is a collaboration between the Center for Access to Justice and Technology and CALI® that evolved from Professor Ronald Staudt’s “Justice & Technology Practicum” course. These presenters will discuss projects that either create new clinical courses or modify current ones that teach their students to use A2J Author® or other software tools to develop self-help resources for legal aid organizations.

“The goal of the project is to help establish cyber clinics as a permanent part of U.S. law school education,” said Professor Staudt. “These A2J clinics are law school courses offering credit to law students who work on A2J Guided Interviews® and other content for statewide legal aid websites, lowering barriers to justice for low-income, pro se litigants.”

Members of the public interested in attending can still register for the CALI Conference at conference.cali.org/2013. The full conference fee is reduced to $99 for those only attending the symposium. To take advantage of the reduced rate, select the “Check or money order” payment method on check out. Then send an email to lvmolde@cali.org, informing CALI that you will only be attending the symposium.

A2JAuthor® is a software tool developed in 2005 by CALI® and IIT Chicago-Kent’s Center for Access to Justice that uses a web-based user interface to guide self-represented litigants through a legal process by asking a series of questions to create documents that can be filed with the court. A2J Author© is currently used in more than 30 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Canada.

CALI®, the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, is a nonprofit consortium of 200 law schools whose mission includes promoting “access to justice through the use of computer technology.”