Legal + Tech = A2J
Occasionally I am having discussions about how legal tech relates to access to justice (a2j). I had some sort of enlightenment when I saw the following equation at annual Legal Hackers summit in the Cat Moon’s presentation:
legal + tech = access to justice
Of course, legal tech cannot offer solutions for all existing problems in this area. Yet. But when legal meets tech it certainly creates more opportunities for access to justice. To support this idea, I studied the concept of access to justice a bit more and crystallized for myself three basic principles on which, I believe, a2j is based:
- Clear and doable legal procedures
- Right for legal advice and defense
- Right for hearing in front of impartial and independent court
Are there examples of the formula?
While running pitching events for legal tech startups in Ukraine, I discovered that there are teams that cover all these three parts of a2j.
For example, a part of online Platform for Efficient Regulation (http://regulation.gov.ua/startup, in Ukrainian only) provides a clear step-by-step guidance on opening a business in Ukraine with references to all relevant legislation and institutions. Moreover, the guide is interactive and built using your answers to a short questionnaire. So, in the end, you have a clear and doable tailor-made guidance on opening the business. You have it in 5 minutes for free, and don’t need to spend your time and budget to get the legal advice.
There are also legal tech means to facilitate your right for legal advice and defense — second principle of a2j.
You can now receive legal support from online platforms like American LegalZoom or Ukrainian Dom Jurista, which can draft a contract for you for free or for few bucks.
Another platform Bright Advise gives a customer the ability to set the price for their question and lawyer can choose if the rate is acceptable. In more harsh situations, for example when you are detained, a Legal Alarm app can help you get your lawyer. You just need to register in advance and, once you are in trouble, to push the button, so the lawyer can see your GPS location to come within 30 minutes to rescue you.
In many situations mentioned legal tech solutions can provide you legal aid and ensure the right for defense.
Now let’s move to the third principle of access to justice, namely impartial and independent court.
Such a court could be achieved through the openness and transparency, which, in turn, can be created by open data analyzed with technical means to provide meaningful insights.
For instance, it can show that corruption offenders are often released on bail and how this number relates to other offenses. This kind of analytics can indicate questionable decisions or biased judges. OpenDataBot, LexCovery, Court On Your Palm are only few from many other working on this and they are on their way to provide such services.
Is legal tech all about money?
Some may argue that a lot of legal tech solutions tackle routine tasks of big law firms or corporations and, hence, do not really contribute to improving access to justice. I strongly believe in the opposite.
Consider this. Comprehensive automation of routine legal tasks in combination with open market will drive the price of services down. In B2C sector clients will feel it first. On B2B or B2G levels the effect will be delayed, but in the end, a lower “transaction costs” will positively influence the end consumer of legal or justice services.
So for me, it is clear that when legal meets tech, it ends up with improving everyone’s access to justice. Share your thoughts on this in comments, push 💚or👏 if you care about #legaltech or #a2j and reach out with any suggestions!