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Access to Justice Tech Fellow Creates LegalAid Chatbot

By George Khoury, Esq. on February 13, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When the tech revolution comes, it'll be the lawyers like Chad Au, who still hasn't even finished law school, who the terminators come back to protect. That's because Chad Au is one of a select group of law students selected for an Access to Justice Tech Fellowship, and Chad actually did something meaningful: he created a chatbot to help Hawaii's Legal Aid Society.

Most law students these days already know what a chatbot is and does, and legal services chatbots have been around for some time now. There's even a divorce chatbot that can help individuals lucky enough to be in the uncontested divorce realm. And if you think there's any practice area safe from the scourge of chatbots, you're probably wrong.

What's This Tech Fellowship?

The Access to Justice Tech Fellowship selects law students every year to participate in a 10 week fully funded experiential learning program at legal services providers geared towards using tech and data to improve access to legal services and the civil justice system generally.

Fellows can expect to work on projects ranging from researching and developing resources for pro bono lawyers, to improving usability for legal self-help materials, to even developing and testing the newest tech to be deployed for legal services organizations, like Chad Au's chatbot.

The program is partnered with Seattle University and the Legal Services Corporation, but students across the country can apply. To be eligible, law students must be at an ABA accredited school, be either a 1L or 2L, and be able to demonstrate their commitment to public interest or social justice law. And while the prestige of being selected would probably be enough to get a tall stack of applicants anyway, the program also pays $4,000 for the 10 weeks of work.

Unfortunately for the 2Ls reading this, the deadline to apply has already passed. However, 1Ls can certainly take advantage of the extra time to make sure their applications are ready early for next year. Cultivate the right references, make sure that essay is perfect, and work on bolstering that resume.

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