Friday, December 21, 2018

"Columbia Law School Students Are Turning Into Legal Tech Developers"

This story is from Legal Tech News:

Columbia Law School Students Are Turning Into Legal Tech Developers

Columbia Law School students are using a legal tech company's document automation software to address the legal needs of New York City tenants and low-wage workers in South America.


Columbia Law School students are using a software program to create apps to help various legal organizations’ clients automate the drafting of legal documents. The project came after Columbia Law School Legal Technology Association, a student-led association seeking to expose members to the broad scope of legal technology, and HelpSelf Legal teamed up in the spring 2018 semester to offer HelpSelf’s document automation builder software for worthy causes.


These Columbia students join a growing group of law students across the U.S. using their burgeoning legal knowledge to create user-friendly apps to help automatize services for legal aid organizations’ clients.


HelpSelf’s document automation builder software allows users to create form-based interviews, which clients fill out with necessary information directly on a site. The clients’ answers merge into a specified document and automatically generate “execution-ready documents.”


HelpSelf Legal is the brainchild of former Sidley Austin associate Dorna Moini. Moini told The Recorder in January that she left Big Law after six years to focus on creating a “system that will allow people to have much greater success than they would if they were going it on their own.”


Columbia law students will use HelpSelf’s automated document software to help potential litigants with their legal document preparation.


Cecilia Plaza, a second-year law student at Columbia Law School, said she and others have teamed up with the New York City Housing Court to create a mobile- and desktop-accessible app to help tenants. Tenants answer questions created by the students, and their answers will generate a legal document. A legal aid attorney will be available to review and provide pro bono, explained HelpSelf Legal’s Moini.


After signing up for the project in April, Plaza explained, her group contacted legal aid organizations and nonprofits for feedback on where they thought clients would most benefit. They found that housing matters, such as tenants having to respond to a landlord’s allegations of nonpayment, was a pressing legal matter, Plaza said.

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