Very pleased to see The Impact Lawyers reprint my review of Renee Knake Jefferson‘s excellent new book Law Democratized: A Blueprint for Solving the Justice Crisis.

Ms. Jefferson believes that artificial intelligence “has the potential to become the single most important tool in solving the legal justice crisis,” so on completing this review, I decided to ask ChatGPT 4.0 the question:

“What is the probability of significant improvements in access to civil legal services?”

I found ChatGPT’s summary answer mostly consistent with Jefferson’s conclusions—and hence encouraging. In any event, Ms. Jefferson has provided a public service by writing Law Democratized. It will surely increase the probability of meaningful reforms.

Here is the ChatGPT summary: 

The probability of significant improvements in access to justice for civil legal services depends on various factors, including policy changes, resource allocation, technological advancements, and societal attitudes toward legal aid. While it is difficult to assign a specific probability, several trends and initiatives may increase the likelihood of improvements:

  1. Policy Reforms: Legislative and regulatory changes aimed at expanding access to legal services, such as relaxing licensing requirements for non-traditional legal service providers, implementing funding programs for legal aid organizations, and establishing alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, could lead to significant improvements.
  2. Technology: Advancements in technology, such as online legal resources, virtual legal clinics, and artificial intelligence-powered tools for document review and analysis, have the potential to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and reach underserved populations.
  3. Funding and Resources: Increased funding and resources allocated to legal aid organizations, pro bono initiatives, and civil legal assistance programs can enhance their capacity to provide services to low-income individuals and marginalized communities.
  4. Awareness and Education: Efforts to raise awareness about legal rights, options for legal assistance, and available resources can empower individuals to seek help when needed and navigate the legal system more effectively.
  5. Collaboration and Partnerships: Collaboration among legal aid organizations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, law firms, and community stakeholders can leverage resources, share best practices, and develop innovative solutions to address gaps in access to justice.
  6. Cultural and Systemic Changes: Addressing systemic barriers to access to justice, such as racial and socioeconomic disparities, language barriers, and biases within the legal system, can contribute to more equitable outcomes and improve access for marginalized communities.

I think the AI Law Librarians blog might grow on me. My favorite current post? Sarah Gotschall‘s article Move Over Law Professors? AI Likes to Write Law Review Articles Too! She gives an AI-generated law review article a passing grade.

Gotschall walks readers through the process of guiding an AI chatbot (“Claude“) through the process of developing an article. She provides the prompting practices she uses:

  1. Being polite and encouraging.
  2. Allowing ample time for the model to process information.
  3. Structuring inquiries in a sequential manner to enhance analysis and promote chain of thought reasoning.
  4. Supplying extensive, and sometimes seemingly excessive, background info and context.

Here’s an example of Gotschall’s approach to being polite and encouraging:

Great you’re really good at following instructions! You’re also really good at creating outlines of law review articles. Now that you understand the topic and thesis, please use the information uploaded in the article and generate a detailed outline for the law review. You can get an idea of how law review articles are written and organized by analyzing the law reviews in the files that I’ve uploaded.

Move Over Law Professors Article

Handling AI’s emotions will be a challenge for me!

H/T to Sabrina I. Pacifici for the link.

Just completing an interview with Richard Granat for LLRX.com. My favorite sentence:

[Maryland Family Lawyer] fits my business model of generating income when I sleep.

Gotta love the business model of generating income while sleeping.

A few American Bar Association articles provide background about Richard Granat’s impressive contributions to using the Internet to provide better access to high-quality and reasonably priced legal services:

Internet Obsessive

Podcast

I Want to Push the Limit

First 50 ABA Legal Rebels

There is a reason Smart Guys like Jim Calloway keep returning to the topic of password managers. Too many lawyers still don’t understand that besides improving security, they can improve productivity. Fellow members of the Smart Guys Club Tom Mighell and Catherine Reach have also weighted in on the subject.

After experimenting with Last Pass I’ve gone back to 1 Password. It gets rave reviews but any of the top programs is light years ahead of a chaotic pile of yellow sticky notes.

Few social issues are more significant than unequal access to justice. Any nation that aspires to the highest level of democracy must make the civil justice system accessible not just to the affluent, but those of modest means.

Professor Renee Knake Jefferson‘s excellent new book “Law Democratized: A Blueprint for Solving the Justice Crisis” explains exactly where we are, where we need to go, and how we can get there.

An updated version of my review is available at The Impact Lawyers. It’s essential reading for anyone who wants to be a part of the better access to justice solution.

I’m pleased to be working on an interview with Richard Granat, a seminal figure in the drive to improve access to justice in the U.S. Here’s what ChatGPT has to say about Richard:

Me: Tell me about Richard Granat, legal rebel

Richard Granat, Legal Rebel

ChatGPT 4.0: Richard Granat has been a pioneering figure in the legal technology field, often recognized for his innovative approach to providing legal services online. Known as a “Legal Rebel,” Granat was honored by the ABA Journal in 2009 for his forward-thinking methods in the realm of online legal services and legal tech education​ (ABA Journal)​​ (ABA Journal)​.

Granat’s career has focused heavily on automating and transforming legal services to make them more accessible and affordable. He has developed various platforms, such as SmartLegalForms and DirectLaw, which enable law firms to offer standardized legal services at fixed prices. This approach not only democratizes legal help but also allows consumers to handle their legal needs more directly and transparently​ (ABA Journal)​.

Moreover, Granat has been involved in the early stages of online legal education, influencing the way legal services are taught and implemented in practice. His efforts include founding the first virtual law firm and various educational resources aimed at helping lawyers and clients navigate the complexities of law in the digital age​ (ABA Journal)​.

At the core of Granat’s work is the belief that technology can significantly enhance the efficiency of legal services and improve access to justice for a broader audience. This vision has driven him to continuously innovate and explore new ways to integrate technology into the legal field, keeping him at the forefront of legal technology advocacy and development​ (ABA Journal)​.

“Our law firm has a policy forbidding our lawyers to use generative artificial intelligence to produce legal products such as briefs, motion arguments, and researched opinions.”

— From a partner at Carlton Fields.

Rather than requiring carpenters to use only manual saws, wouldn’t it make more sense to teach them to use power tools safely?

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Back in the day smart law librarians like Genie Tyburski, Cindy Chick and Sabrina I. Pacifici were busy teaching lawyers how to evaluate the reliability of information found via the internet. Something tells me there may be a need for similar training today.

Catherine Reach‘s article on modern note-taking is the most useful thing I have read this year. Check it out & see if you feel the same.

Unfortunately it’s a little late for me to get maximum benefit. If I’d read an article like Catherine’s 20 years ago and followed her advice, I not as much money would have slipped through my fingers due to disorganization & memory lapse. Would my net worth be about twice as much as it is today? Probably more.

Here’s a link to an episode of the estimable Dennis Kennedy / Tom Mighell that has related tips:

The “Second Brain” ideas they have discussed over multiple episodes is a more elaborate development of similar ideas.

 My review of Renee Knake Jefferson’s fine new book, Law Democratized: A Blueprint for Solving the Justice Crisis is available at LLRX.com. The bottom line?

Unequal access to justice is, and must be, a national priority. This is the best assessment I have seen of where the country is and where we must go. Lawyers, judges, legislators, bar officials, and anyone interested in making our civil justice system fairer and more effective will find this book essential.

 It’s available from the NYU Press, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Vanderbilt Law School Professor Cat Moon sees it quite clearly: [T]he very [law] firm structure repels innovation (and modernization).”

Yep. Some people are innovating. Just don’t expect to see much out of large law firms. What does happen won’t happen fast.

The curve will be pretty much what we saw decades ago with the Internet. Rick Klau & Erik J. Heels documented large firm adoption of the Internet is their 1998 book Law Law Law on the Internet. Most big firms attempted to create the impression they were Internet innovators, and some grabbed domain names early on. Actual adoption was slow, especially with regard to big value-adds like intranets.

Greg Siskind, Visalaw.com Founder

The most effective innovators were smaller firms, like Greg Siskind‘s Visalaw.com.