Talk Justice, an LSC Podcast: Confronting the Legal Tech Justice Gap


Carl Rauscher 

Director of Communications and Media Relations


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WASHINGTON– Experts discuss the vast funding gap in legal tech on the latest episode of LSC's “Talk Justice” podcast, released today. LSC President Ron Flagg hosts the conversation with guests Bob Ambrogi, lawyer and award-winning legal tech journalist, and Cat Moon, director of innovation design for the Program on Law and Innovation at Vanderbilt Law School.  


Ambrogi authored a recent LawSites article about his observations from attending the big law tech conference Legalweek and then LSC’s Innovations in Technology Conference (ITC), which centers around technology for legal aid and self-help for low-income Americans.  


Advocates for access to justice frequently reference the “justice gap,” which refers to the legal needs of people living in poverty and the lack of resources available to meet those needs. Ambrogi is raising awareness of a related gap—the gap in the resources for legal tech that addresses problems facing low-income Americans, and the resources for legal tech innovations for large law firms and corporate legal departments.   


“I felt like I was walking from one world into another world in a sense, even though they were both legal tech conferences,” says Ambrogi. “We all talk about all the money going into the legal tech sector, but so much of it is going into that sector to develop high-end products and you see it [at Legalweek].”  


“And then you go to ITC and there are people who are just as enthusiastic, just as innovative in terms of developing tech, but serving a very different audience and not having the financial resources in the same way to be able to develop technology products,” he continues. “The VCs that are putting money into tech for big law are not putting money into tech for even small law or access to justice or legal services.”  


Thinking about ways to bridge this gap, Moon says that regulatory reform is important, as current unlicensed practice of law restrictions are disincentivizing big tech developers from making tools that serve the public. She also wants to see a shift in the legal industry’s mindset around what constitutes pro bono service. Lawyers are well aware that they can benefit people by donating their time, but what if law firms shared or developed technology for legal aid?  


“We have this culture that is so focused on one-to-one service delivery, so I think part of it is:  how do we reset the culture so that individual lawyers and law firms and legal departments realize that they actually are doing an incredible pro bono service by contributing to technology projects?” says Moon.  


Ambrogi agrees and extends the point further to look not just at law firms’ obligations, but at funders and tech companies.  


“The famous bank robber, Willie Sutton, when asked why he robs banks says, ‘that's where the money is,’ and in the legal tech world, ‘where the money is’ is in big law and big corporate legal departments,” Ambrogi says. “I believe that there is an obligation even among those bigger legal tech companies, among those larger law firms, among those corporate legal departments to be doing more to maybe divert or share some of these resources in ways that can help address the access to justice problem.” 


A previous Talk Justice episode on AI for legal aid recorded live at ITC is available here.  


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.  

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.