Talk Justice, an LSC Podcast: Legal Tech Innovations Other Than AI

 Carl Rauscher          
 Director of Communications and Media Relations     

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WASHINGTON—Legal tech experts discuss significant innovations taking place in the legal field that are not generative artificial intelligence (AI) on the latest episode of LSC’s “Talk Justice” podcast, released today. Host Cat Moon is joined by Dennis Kennedy, director of the Michigan State University Center for Law, Technology & Innovation, and Jane Ribadeneyra, senior program officer for technology at the Legal Services Corporation. 

As generative AI continues to dominate headlines, social media posts and conversations around legal technology and innovation, Moon and guests highlight other important advancements. Rather than jumping straight to AI, Kennedy says that lawyers should start “small and simple” to avoid confusion. 

“I think we start with what are the problems that we need to solve?” says Kennedy. “And I think the more precise we get about that question in our answer to it, the better off we are and the more happy we are with the technology.” 

At LSC’s upcoming Innovations in Technology Conference (ITC), Ribadeneyra says that only a handful of the 55 sessions will focus on AI specifically. Other big topics at the conference include data analytics, eviction and housing, legal design, regulatory reform, and cyber security. Many of the sessions at ITC will be livestreamed—check LSC’s Facebook page for updates. 

Ribadeneyra says one of the tools legal aid recipients of LSC’s Technology Innovation Grants increasingly embrace is automated document assembly systems. She explains that previously, legal aid programs were mostly having clients use document assembly on their own for self-help services. Now, that’s changing. 

“That’s a tool that’s been around for over 20 years,” Ribadeneyra says. “But we're finally seeing some traction in organizations building [document assembly] tools for their internal staff to use.” 

Kennedy says that preparing documents is a great example of a task that people talk about using AI for, when a simpler, more apt tool already exists to accomplish it. Generally, though, Kennedy is concerned that innovations are not being responsive enough to specific problems in the legal field and beyond. 

“I think it's really important to look at what used to be called the ‘mega trends,’ what's actually happening in the world—we know that in the legal system, language and literacy are problems. We know that there is one set of justice for people who have money and one set of justice for people who don't. We know the population is aging. We know there's migration for climate and other reasons,” Kennedy says. “This stuff is coming.” 

Ribadeneyra is encouraged by the recent growth in the justice technology sector and believes that partnerships are an important aspect of advancing the field. 

“We are starting to see growth in the justice technology field of companies that are coming up and being focused on both technology and access to justice—every day I'm hearing about new companies and new startups that are joining [the Justice Technology Association],” she says. 

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 a live recording from the Innovations in Technology Conference (ITC) featuring Quinten Steenhuis, practitioner in residence at Suffolk LIT Lab, Sam Harden, Program Manager at Pro Bono Net, and Scheree Gilchrist, chief innovation officer at Legal Aid of North Carolina. 

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.