By Lois R. Lupica, Maine Law Foundation Professor of Law
I recently attended the first organizational meeting of the Maine Legal Innovation Group (MLIG). MLIG was created to provide a forum to think through, brainstorm, and collaborate on how technology can be best used to bridge the access to justice gap. The group was initiated by Nicole Bradick ’06 of CuroLegal, and includes members from the private sector and legal aid lawyers, coders, social justice advocates, and entrepreneurs, including Maine Law students Sage Friedman ’17 and Toby Franklin ’17.
We met at CuroLegal’s office in Thompson’s Point over pizza and craft beer, spending time connecting with others who are working on legal tech-based projects. For example, Krista Selnau of Pine Tree Legal Services described a host of new self-help tools developed by Pine Tree, including a new interactive online “cartoon” game. The game is designed to help pro se litigants successfully navigate a day in court. The founder of the local start-up, X2X, updated us on his progress in bringing his app, aimed at simplifying the divorce process, to market. Bradick described CuroLegal’s recent ABA BluePrint project, a web-based tool designed to help small firms and solo lawyers use technology to increase efficiencies. In noting how lawyers, often risk averse by training and temperament, tend to be late technology adopters, we discussed how Maine Law’s Apps for Justice project has the potential to produce a generation of tech-savvy lawyers who can address access to justice problems by not only “thinking like lawyers,” but by also “thinking like coders.”
It is undeniable that the practice of law is rapidly changing, largely due to the introduction of new technologies, and the forces of globalization. In recent years, our law students have increasingly brought entrepreneurial instincts to their thinking about how technology can improve the delivery of legal services. The conversations and collaborations among members of the Maine Legal Innovation Group are just beginning.