On Oct. 7, a team of legal tech and innovation students from Georgia State University College of Law became semi-finalists in the National Legal Innovations Tournament hosted by Hofstra University’s Maurice A. Deane School of Law.
The tournament fostered collaboration between law, computer science, and business students by offering them a unique challenge. They were asked to develop an app that would increase access to alternative dispute resolution processes, like contacting a neutral – someone outside of the situation to aid in resolving the controversy between parties. The app needed to make operations more efficient and effective.
The team worked alongside a practicing attorney and spent more than six hours to develop a pitch for an app capable of solving these issues.
Patrick Parsons, associate director for Legal Technology & Innovation, and executive director for the Legal Analytics & Innovation Initiative (LAII), encouraged his students to take part in the tournament. Parsons “really wanted them to learn that there’s [an] opportunity for students and lawyers like them – people who can think about a problem and come up with a creative solution.”
Having seen first-hand that “there are a lot of problems to be solved,” Chantal Wynter-Jackson (J.D ’25), was further motivated to participate by the “need [for] students asking questions and thinking outside the box.”
After discovering each classmate’s interests, Keimani Harvey (J.D. ’24), Wynter-Jackson, and Thomas Gerard (J.D. ’24), decided to connect. Harvey soon realized the team had the opportunity and ability to “do something special.”
Up for the challenge, Wynter-Jackson, Harvey, and Gerard, officially registered for the competition.
“All three of these students have such a wealth of life and professional experience that problem solving, and real-world application comes naturally to them,” said Parsons, excited by their decision to participate.
On the day of the National Legal Innovations Tournament, the College of Law’s team decided to make the focus of their app bridging the gap between mediators and clients.
“Our overall inspiration was educating low-income individuals about mediation and creating a way for them to access diverse neutrals. This inspiration led us to identify two key parts in our app development: (1) knowledge and (2) access to justice. For the knowledge component, we recognized that there is a general lack of understanding surrounding mediation. The access to justice component, however, was threefold,” said Harvey.
Furthering access to justice would involve incorporating features in the app to increase opportunities for diverse neutrals, improve access to mediators for underserved populations, and provide a mechanism that would allow low-income populations to connect with affordable mediators.
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