In Utah, as in much of the country, going to court without a lawyer has become the norm for many litigants. In debt-collection cases, for example, only 1 percent of defendants are represented by lawyers. In eviction cases, just 2 percent of tenants have lawyers.
This fall, a half-dozen or so second- and third-year students at BYU Law School in Provo will step into the role of entrepreneur to design a way to help Utah’s self-represented litigants respond when they are served with a lawsuit. The students will be participants in the inaugural class of LawX, a legal design lab the law school is launching to create products and other solutions to address Utah’s critical gap in access to legal services.
LawX is the brainchild of Parker and D. Gordon Smith, dean of BYU Law School. Smith, in his roles both as dean and as a member of the Utah State Bar Commission, had been considering how the law school could help address the state’s A2J problem. One day last year, he sat in on a talk by Margaret Hagan about the Legal Design Lab she runs as an interdisciplinary program of Stanford Law School and the Stanford Institute of Design.
“That resonated with me,” Smith told me during a recent phone call with him and Parker. After visiting Hagan’s lab in Palo Alto to learn more, Smith connected with Parker, who is a practicing lawyer and the founder of CO/COUNSEL, a legal education and crowdsourcing site, and they began to plan the framework for creating a design lab at BYU.Read More