Talk Justice, an LSC Podcast: AI for Self-Help and Legal Aid at the Innovations in Technology Conference

 Carl Rauscher          
 Director of Communications and Media Relations   

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WASHINGTON— Legal tech experts discuss generative AI and its applications for legal services on the latest episode of LSC’s “Talk Justice” podcast, released today. Host Cat Moon is joined by Conor Malloy, Rentervention project director at the Law Center for Better Housing, Scheree Gilchrist, chief innovation officer at Legal Aid of North Carolina, and Quinten Steenhuis, practitioner in residence and adjunct professor at Suffolk University Law School’s Legal Innovation and Technology Lab. 

The episode was recorded live at LSC’s recent Innovations in Technology Conference (ITC) in Charlotte, NC. ITC brings together professionals from the legal community and beyond for a deep dive into the evolving role of technology in advancing access to justice. AI was a major topic at the conference. 

“Every single [session] I sat in touched on AI, even if that wasn’t the primary topic,” says Moon. 

The panelists reflect on those conversations, sharing their biggest takeaways from ITC, as well as their personal experiences engaging with AI tools. They delve into practical applications of AI, ranging from simplifying communication to enhancing the efficiency of legal research and drafting.

For Malloy, one of the most obvious uses of AI is to supplement personal areas of difficulty, especially as they relate to written communication. He explains that he has used AI to moderate and adjust the tone of emails to clients.

“[AI] will just find gaps in where we are as professionals and just fill in those gaps so long as we’re willing to let it,” Malloy says. 

They also discuss the level of risk associated with AI use, which is a real concern for legal aid organizations that are consistently working with sensitive and complex information. To lower the stakes, Gilchrist and Moon suggest starting to experiment with AI on internal projects, rather than client-facing products. 

Gilchrist proposes content editing as a “low-risk way to jump on the train.” 

“You can take information that you’ve written, without disclosing your client information, and you can ask ChatGPT or any of these models to just simplify it—write it at a fourth-grade level for you,” Gilchrist says. 

The legal tech experts predict that AI tools will continue to proliferate in the legal aid field. With that in mind, Steenhuis offers some reassurance about general security concerns.

“I think it’s pretty clear now that they’re not using your data for training purposes if you have a subscription and you turn off history, so those are things you can do with ChatGPT,” he says. “If you’ve built a system that uses backend API that is built in, they’re not using your data for training purposes—it’s just as safe as using OneDrive or any of the other cloud services that we use every day.” 

“It feels a little bit different, typing intimate things into a thing that talks back to you, but it’s not storing in a way that’s not safe if you’re using one of those two things,” Steenhuis continues. 

As the legal profession continues to grapple with the challenges of modernizing the judicial system and delivering effective legal services, however, the panelists concede adjustments will need to be made. 

Talk Justice episodes are available online and on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple and other popular podcast apps. The podcast is sponsored by LSC’s Leaders Council. The next episode of LSC’s podcast will be about helping Americans prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974. For 50 years, LSC has provided financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 131 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.