More on Mapping: incorporating the Steenhuis Amendment

There have been a number of attempts to develop a taxonomy of legal tech particularly relevant to access to justice. I have had various goes at this, the most recent last December. Subsequently, Quinten Steenhuis, of Greater Boston Legal Services and an adjunct Professor at Suffolk Law School, came up with a further list on which he invited comment (tweet 5 February). Below is an attempt to synthesise two approaches deployed in this process – one seeking to get a manageable overview and the other trying to be comprehensive. For reference, the two originals are set out in the appendix.

It may be worth repeating the point and context of such an exercise. The original quest was set off by Suffolk Law School’s Professor Teninbaum, with a question that can be rephrased for access to justice. Can we develop a taxonomy of legal tech in the access to justice field which relates not so much to specific products but more to categories of tools, the various disciplines within legal tech? This would be desirable for two very practical reasons. First, if we can agree the current parameters of the use of access to justice tech then we have amajor aid to charting its impact. Second, if we can agree headings by function that work internationally and cross-jurisdictionally then that will open up more possibilities for comparison. We will be better able to learn lessons and add the competitive spur of arguing about which products from what countries are the best in their class. And then seek to better the winner.

So, using Professor Teninbaum’s language, we are on the hunt for ‘categories of tools’ representing ‘’the various disciplines within legal tech’. These, in my view, have to be limited in number to make them manageable – I originally suggested a maximum of ten and then actually proposed eight. The list below reduces this to seven.  It is important to recognise, as Quinten does, that technology may be categorised in different ways eg by intended user and intended result. We are leaving that aside for the moment.

So, this would be my preliminary synthesis (note the demise of referral and triage as a separate heading):

  1. Searchable matching databases
    1. Searchable resource databases, including:
    • Marketplace tools
    • Lawyer/legal-resource/client matching tools
    1. Referral and triage tools (provide structured navigation to resource databases)
  1. Form and Document Automation 
    1. Form and template filling (letters, pleadings, briefs, and more): also “document assembly”
    2. Form filling that delivers to a database rather than a printed document
    3. Clause libraries (similar to templates, but focused more on mix and matching without a rigid structure and order of terms)
  1. Practice Management and Delivery 
    1. Intake tools (collect information from the user and provide to case management system)
    2. Legal writing helper tools (plain language, table of authority generation, citation checkers, etc.)
    3. Billing, invoice generation, and time-tracking tools
    4. Electronic case filing
    5. Case management systems / electronic record systems. 
    6. Miscellaneous case management tools
    • Digital signature tools
    • Document collection tools
    • Pure collaboration tools
    • Pure communication tools
    1. Dedicated contract writing and analysis tools
    • Self-proving contracts
    1. Tools to help litigants navigate the dispute preparation process:
    • Electronic discovery tools (search, classify, tag large volumes of data)
    • Tickler/reminder tools
    • Mapping tools
    • Tools that help collect and organize information to use in litigation
    • Tools that help you organize and present a narrative (story-telling tools)
  1. Legal Research and Analytics 
    1. Data analysis, reporting and graphing tools with a legal focus 
    2. Legal research helper tools (case databases)
  1. Legal Education and Gamification
    1. Static information presented online (such as websites, videos, and other educational content);
    2. Interactive, non-tailored education (games, VR court maps, online classes/training systems, etc.)
  1. Online Dispute Resolution
  1. Online user guidance on information, advice and assistance through the problem-solving process short of ODR (covering eg guided pathways, AI, chatbots and natural language processing); 
    1. Static information presented online (see also 5.1)
    2. Interactive, tailored information (expert systems) 
    3. Automated systems that leverage machine learning, optical character recognition, etc. to deliver advice or generate documents without requiring much user input

What do you reckon? Useful or not? Can it be improved? Email or tweet any response.

 

Appendix

A taxonomy of legal technology 

Quinten Steenhuis (appended to tweet of 5 February)

Legal technology can be either an aid for lawyers and other legal staff, or it can empower parties to a legal dispute to solve their own legal problems. The same types of tools can often serve both purposes.

If we tried to list all of the popular legal technology apps that exist today, we might end up with a classification like this:

  • Static information presented online (such as websites, videos, and other educational content)
  • Interactive, non-tailored education (games, VR court maps, online classes/training systems, etc.)
  • Interactive, tailored information (expert systems)
  • Searchable resource databases, including:
    • Marketplace tools
    • Lawyer/legal-resource/client matching tools
  • Referral and triage tools (provide structured navigation to resource databases)
  • Intake tools (collect information from the user and provide to case management system)
  • Form and template filling (letters, pleadings, briefs, and more): also “document assembly”
  • Form filling that delivers to a database rather than a printed document
  • Automated systems that leverage machine learning, optical character recognition, etc. to deliver advice or generate documents without requiring much user input
  • Automated systems that leverage machine learning to provide risk analysis, flag terms, etc.
  • Clause libraries (similar to templates, but focused more on mix and matching without a rigid structure and order of terms)
  • Tools to help litigants navigate the dispute preparation process:
    • Electronic discovery tools (search, classify, tag large volumes of data)
    • Tickler/reminder tools
    • Mapping tools
    • Tools that help collect and organize information to use in litigation
    • Tools that help you organize and present a narrative (story-telling tools)
  • Data analysis, reporting and graphing tools with a legal focus
  • Legal writing helper tools (plain language, table of authority generation, citation checkers, etc.)
  • Legal research helper tools (case databases)
  • Case management systems / electronic record systems
  • Billing, invoice generation, and time-tracking tools
  • Electronic case filing
  • Online dispute resolution
  • Dedicated contract writing and analysis tools
    • Self-proving contracts
  • Miscellaneous case management tools
    • Digital signature tools
    • Document collection tools
    • Pure collaboration tools
    • Pure communication tools

#

Substantive vs. Non-Substantive applications

We can also distinguish between substantive apps that replace a traditional legal advice role, from non-substantive apps that simply make the job of a litigant or lawyer simpler.

Substantive apps:

  • Gather facts from the user
  • Provide information that is tailored to the user’s situation
  • May provide final documents that are similarly tailored to the user’s situation

In short, they act a lot like a lawyer who meets with a client. And users often treat these apps like lawyers.

A first taxonomy (17 December 2019)

Roger Smith

We might explore something like the categories below which seek to expand its categories to cover various user-oriented developments which seek to expand its categories to cover various user-oriented developments:

  1. Marketplace or matching [to include various ways of brining together potential users and providers]
  2. Document Automation [a big area for both legal and access to justice tech]
  3. Practice Management [to include various ways of remote delivery as well as the organisation of cases and clients]
  4. Legal Research [with which I would be tempted to bundle Analytics, thus accepting that artificial intelligence was a tool for a tool and not to be regarded as something in and of itself in this list]
  5. Legal Education [including materials aimed both at the public and various forms of training and assistance for providers]
  6. Online Dispute Resolution
  7. Online user guidance on information, advice and assistance through the problem-solving process short of ODR (covering eg guided pathways, AI, chatbots and natural language processing); and 
  8. Referral and Triage.

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