Legal eagles swoop in on new tech

The transformation of the legal industry means young lawyers need the technological skills to create and use apps that deliver improved services for their clients.

Whether researching relevant case law, making calculations or undertaking mundane tasks like storing gigabits of documents, gone are the days of simply relying on pen, paper and legal precedent.

Flinders University and AI software creator Neota Logic have partnered for this reason, launching a special platform for a new course that will help future lawyers develop the technological skills needed before they enter the legal profession.

Over the course of the semester, Flinders law students will work alongside not-for-profit organisations to develop legal apps designed to improve the delivery of their services.

Associate Professor Tania Leiman, Dean of Law, College of Business, Government and Law at Flinders University, says the University is ensuring law graduates are technology literate leaders who have the skills and knowledge to navigate the digital age.

“We are excited to be able to work with our students on real problems for real clients, and develop solutions using this specifically designed platform.

“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.”

According to a report by KPMG Australia, over 1800 US startups received venture capital funding in 2016-17 to develop specific products that improve existing services in the legal industry.

Retail Drinks Australia CEO and 2019 Global Legal Hackathon judge Julie Ryan says employers are increasingly seeking qualified lawyers who can also implement tech solutions in a rapidly developing industry.

“The business world is changing and so are the ways business demands service. New technologies are emerging and the pressure is on for law firms, in-house lawyers and legal businesses to operate more efficiently and effectively. Technology is changing the practice of law and so it needs to form part of the study of law.”

“The Global Legal Hackathon, which Flinders Law will host in 2019, will showcase the way that innovation and technology can be used to solve issues in access to justice, and demonstrate the importance of fostering that innovation.”

At the end of the semester, students will come together to showcase their finished product before a panel of judges as they compete for the prize of best legal app.

After the course is completed, the not-for-profit organisations will have the opportunity to deploy their applications.

Kenji Yamada from Neota Logic, says law schools are realising it’s necessary to prepare students for the future of the legal profession.

“At the same time, it’s meaningful to know that through learning these skills, students will be able to create live and functioning legal applications, helping to promote greater access to justice.”

Apps students have developed using Neota:

Victoria Legal Aid – Client Court Reporter

Client Court Reporter App helps lawyers generate a letter for their client, which, which summarises the court order in plain English.  This helps the clients understand the key information about their cases.

Disability Justice Advocacy – Disability Justice Discrimination App

The Disability Discrimination Information App helps inform people with disabilities as to whether they have experienced discrimination as defined in relevant state and federal legislation. The app also enables Disability Justice Advocacy to reach more individuals through the automation of tailored legal information.

Fitzroy Legal Service – Safe Homes

Safe Homes provides experiencing family violence with relevant legal and non-legal information and support services. In certain circumstances, the app also provides the individual with information regarding eligibility for a Family Violence Intervention Order.

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College of Business, Government and Law

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