Intelligent Legal Tech to Empower Self-Represented Litigants

Schmitz, Amy; Zeleznikow, John

Legal technologies, or “legal tech,” are disrupting the practice of law and providing efficiencies for businesses around the globe. Indeed, legal tech often conjures up notions of billion-dollar businesses and highly sophisticated parties. However, one branch of legal tech that holds particular promise for less sophisticated parties is access to justice (“A2J”) through the use of online dispute resolution (“ODR”). This is because ODR uses technology to enable online claim diagnosis, negotiation, and mediation without the time, money, and stress of traditional court processes. Indeed, courts are now moving traffic ticket, landlord-tenant, personal injury, debt collection, and even divorce claims online. The hope is that legal tech such as online triage and dispute resolution systems will provide means for obtaining remedies for self- represented litigants (“SRLs”) and those who cannot otherwise afford traditional litigation. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of online processes, including court and administrative processes that traditionally occurred in person. Nonetheless, these online processes seem focused mainly on case management and communication, neglecting the need for more imaginative and innovative uses of technology. Accordingly, this Article proposes a six-module system for ODR programs and identifies gaps in development where new technologies are needed to advance A2J. Indeed, there is great room for the development of Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) and data analytics to assist SRLs and others in pursuit of remedies and justice.


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Columbia Science and Technology Law Review

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May 4, 2022