BYU Law Students Develop 2 Access-To-Justice Tools

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Brigham Young University Law School announced this week the development of two new legal technology solutions, one intended to make assigning community service more efficient and the other used to generate divorce documents.

BYU Law's LawX legal design lab developed the two projects concurrently as a means to address access-to-justice issues in Utah, according to a statement Tuesday. The law school held a demo day on April 12 to present the two platforms, which will be piloted in the state with potential for expansion to others.

One platform, CourtServe, connects judges, charities and people convicted of certain misdemeanors or infractions to make it easier for judges to assign community service as opposed to fines or jail time. Order Up, the second project, generates temporary orders for divorce clients who may lack funds to hire a lawyer.

"BYU Law is committed to helping our students become effective problem solvers and committed community builders," Nick Hafen, BYU Law's head of legal technology education, said in a statement on Tuesday. "In keeping with this spirit, LawX provides students with a unique hands-on opportunity to develop solutions to real problems."

Students are tasked with designing and creating prototypes — whether tech or policy solutions — throughout the semester. Participants test their solutions with potential users and pitch them to investors, stakeholders and experts.

"The program pushes students in ways no other law school course does, and students come out much better equipped to confront real-world legal challenges at the individual and structural level," Hafen said.

The CourtServe prototype has received interest from venture capitalists, according to the school. The online platform allows charities to post opportunities and helps volunteers filter opportunities based on the type of crime committed, among other parameters. It also streamlines the process of generating signed proof of completion for the courts. The service provides judges a more accessible means to assign volunteer opportunities, the school said.

Order Up, which is currently available in English, is designed to address financial stress that arises from long divorce proceedings, particularly in filing temporary orders to begin receiving child support or alimony. The platform asks the user a list of questions regarding financial status and generates legal orders.

"I'm a huge advocate of LawX; this process provides students with a means to develop creative solutions to real problems, which is really different from reading a book or hearing about case law," Hayden Moss, a student who worked on the CourtServe project, said in the announcement on Tuesday. "We're taught that BYU Law School's goal is to create people who make the world a better place. This class breaks the mold of traditional law school studies and shows me that I can make a real difference."

BYU last year held its first annual design thinking competition, organized by LawX and the law school's Law, Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship Group. The winning idea was a tool to help pro se tenants find solutions for their legal problems.

--Editing by Robert Rudinger.

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