‘Hackcess’ Winners to Teach MIT Course on Access to Justice

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The winner and a finalist in the ABA Journal’s Hackcess to Justice event, held last August during the ABA annual meeting in Boston, are teaming up to teach a course at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on using software and technology to expand access to justice.

William Palin, the Massachusetts lawyer who won first prize at Hackcess to Justice for his iOS app, PaperHealth, and William Li, a doctoral student in computer science at MIT who was part of the third-prize winning team that developed Due Processor, will teach the course, formally titled, “Law is Code: Software for Access to Justice, Legal Aid, and Open Law,” beginning in January.

Here is the course description:

Can computing technologies provide access to justice, provide legal aid more effectively, or make government and the law more open? In the United States, nearly a million people are turned away from federally funded legal aid services a year; new, scalable solutions are desperately needed.

This course is an opportunity learn about and make a positive impact on reducing the “justice gap” in Massachusetts and beyond. Individuals or teams will learn about the challenges that nonprofit legal aid organizations and government agencies face, choose a challenge, and develop mobile, web, or desktop-based software that addresses this need. Examples might include: an app that determine whether people qualify for legal assistance or expunge their criminal record; interactive data visualizations on open government datasets; systems that would help under-resourced public interest lawyers or organizations serve more clients.

We will invite lawyers and non-profit organizations to talk about their challenges and work closely with teams. This class aims to build a community of thoughtful designers, coders, hackers, lawyers, and other stakeholders to tackle these important problems.

Palin will also be an adjunct professor at Suffolk Law School in the spring semester.

See also: Another App From the ‘Hackcess’ Winner.