A guest post and invitation by Jeannette Eicks, Director of the Center for Legal Innovation at Vermont Law School and teaches the eLawyering course at VLS.
While social distancing the legal needs of citizens do not go away. In Vermont the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order from Governor Scott has created a greater volume of legal needs in certain areas and uncertainty about how to best offer remote legal services to clients. While the Vermont Secretary of State has promulgated emergency rules to address the difficulties of notarization and our legislature has addressed the remote notarization and execution of wills, accessing the emergency legal services needed has not become more affordable or faster during the pandemic. The nature of our healthcare crisis makes some of these legal needs urgent in ways they were not a month ago. We needs remote legal services, and we need them now.
Each year, the Vermont Law School eLawyering class takes on document automation and legal guidance projects as part of the course curriculum. This year our original class assignment required students to build a legal application using Community.Lawyer (cofounded by VLS alum, Toma Officer, Community.Lawyer the go to access to justice product used by LSC). Toma Officer kindly gave a guest lecture in the class and demonstrated how students could build applications to provide legal guidance or documents using Community.Lawyer. Using a tool like Community.Lawyer, students apply legal reasoning and problem solving as well as design and technical skills to build a legal application that provides legal guidance or completes a legal document.
Before spring break, most students had submitted application ideas in their preferred area of law. Then the pandemic happened, and students pivoted to address the rising legal needs stemming from the virus’s impacts on society. The COVID-19 emergency has provided law students with new legal application opportunities to explore and a more pressing need.
The Vermont Law School Spring 2020 eLawyering class invites you to join us on Monday, April 6th and Wednesday, April 8th for a legal application prototype demonstration focused, with a few exceptions, on COVID-19 legal assistance. What you will see in either of these TEAMS meetings is a demonstration of student ideation and legal reasoning ending in their completed application prototypes. These preliminary functional models will require tweaking - legally, technically and in their design – before they are ready for public use. We are eager and excited to have your input.
This Google document describes each application and offers a complete schedule of when each application will be demonstrated and the Teams link for each day. Leave and join the meeting as your availability dictates. Please mute your mic!
Again, the students and I are eager to hear your thoughts! Please drop us an email if you are inspired or have ideas to help students reach their intended audiences with final products. I may be reached at jeicks @ vermontlaw.edu.
The need for remote legal guidance and services is vital. I hope you can join us for one or both application demonstrations as our students find ways to help people face legal challenges during a time of crisis and change.