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Law School Lab 'LawX' Wants to Close Justice Gap

If you ever thought about a better way to provide legal services, but didn't have the time to develop it, then your time may have come.

BYU Law School is offering a legal design lab to create products and other ways to improve access to legal services. The brainchild of the dean and a startup attorney, LawX will be offered to students at the law school.

"LawX will tackle some of the most challenging issues facing our legal system today," said Gordon Smith, dean of BYU Law School.

Justice Gaps

Smith said gaps in legal services may not be attractive targets for innovation by small, private startups or larger profit-oriented businesses. However, he said, closing those gaps could make a tremendous difference to many people who are priced out of the market for legal services.

The legal design lab, structured as a design-thinking process, will be embedded in the law school. It will use brainstorming, designing, and testing prototypes to address problems and create products to solve them.

Kimball D. Parker, who developed and founded CO/COUNSEL, will teach a class for the program. The course will be a hands-on experience with law students working with students and professors in other departments.

"As a practicing attorney, I have seen many instances where technology can make complicated legal processes more straight-forward and stress-free for the average person," Parker said. "As a startup founder, I also understand the rigorous startup environment and the importance of following a tight timeline to move from concept to product delivery."

Job One

The first LawX project will focus on helping self-represented defendants answer a lawsuit. The project will be directed at everyday people who do not understand how to respond to a lawsuit and might not have the resources to hire an attorney.

"The overwhelming amount of people who are getting sued don't have a lawyer," Parker said, adding that only one percent of the those sued in debt collection cases have an attorney.

The program, which debuts in the fall for second- and third-year students, will challenge participants to solve one legal problem a semester. Students will have fast-paced deadlines and responsibilities that are much like being in a startup, Parker said.

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