Law students at BYU Law School’s year-old LawX Legal Design Lab and the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law’s newly launched Innovation for Justice program will join forces this year to explore ways to reduce evictions in their home states of Utah and Arizona and beyond.
Both the LawX and Innovation for Justice programs offer classes focused on improving access to justice through the application of design thinking, systems thinking, technology and interdisciplinary collaboration. I have written several posts about LawX, which I visited last year and which in January released its first project, SoloSuit,
In 2016, Utah averaged 7.61 evictions per day and Pima County, Ariz., where the UA is located, averaged 22.01 evictions per day, according to information provided by the two programs. Less than 20 percent of tenants served with an eviction notice come to court, meaning viable legal defenses often go unheard.
With the goal of developing strategies and solutions to tackle this problem, six LawX students and 12 Innovation for Justice students will collaborate during the fall semester. The two groups of students will check in with each other using videoconferencing and will use collaboration tools such as Google Docs and Slack to share work and research.
Depending on whether their research reveals shared issues regarding evictions in their respective states, they will either develop a combined project jointly or separate projects that address regional issues.
The LawX program is led by Kimball D. Parker, a lawyer at Parsons Behle & Latimer and president of Parsons Behle Lab, his firm’s innovation subsidiary. The Innovation for Justice program is led by Stacy Butler, professor of practice at UA law school and founder of Step Up to Justice, a pro bono legal aid provider in Pima County.
“Given the sheer volume of evictions in America, we believe this is the right issue for LawX to tackle in its second year, and we welcome collaboration with the University of Arizona Law School,” Gordon Smith, dean of BYU Law School, said in a statement.