The Innovation for Justice program includes three courses, as well as a variety of extracurricular opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students across campus.
Graduate Course: Innovation for Justice
Fall -- Innovation for Justice, Law 672. This project-based course exposes the ways in which America’s civil legal system fails to provide justice for all, explores innovations targeted at addressing that systemic failure, and empowers students to design and launch solutions to the justice gap. Topics include: the constitutional underpinnings of our right to access our legal system; poverty in our community; the civil legal needs of low- and moderate-income Americans; how the design of our legal system inhibits equal access; the access to justice movement; how technological innovations are changing the legal system; and methodologies for innovating and improving the civil legal system. In 2019-2020, the Innovation for Justice program will partner with Harvard Law's Systemic Justice Project and Duke University School of Law in a multiple jurisdiction, interdisciplinary collaboration examining the complex needs of human trafficking survivors and exploring innovative ways to spark social change.
Undergraduate / Graduate Combined Course: Innovating Legal Services
Spring -- Innovating Legal Services, Law 672A. This project-based course exposes the ways in which America’s civil legal system fails to provide justice for all, explores innovations targeted at addressing that systemic failure, and empowers students to design and launch solutions to the justice gap. The majority of Americans can’t afford to hire counsel when confronted with a civil legal need. As a result, they attempt to navigate the civil legal system without representation, or simply do not engage with the system at all. What are the societal implications of that system failure, and what can we do to change the status quo? In this course, students will engage with various community stakeholders to understand: (1) what the civil legal system was designed to do; (2) the role that legal professionals have traditionally played in that civil legal system; and (3) how we might reform and improve traditional service models using creative and disruptive problem-solving skills. Community participants will be invited to collaborate on problem identification and solution building. Each semester, the course will focus on a particular avenue of legal service and explore what’s working and what’s not, with the goal of generating creative solutions. In 2020-2021, this course is focused on leveraging regulatory reform efforts in Utah to design new pathways to legal empowerment for people experiencing medical debt. In Spring 2019, this course produced the Licensed Legal Advocate pilot - the first model in the country to extend the provision of legal advice by non‐lawyers to a marginalized population.
Graduate Course: Empirical Methods and the Law
Spring -- Empirical Methods and the Law. Stakeholders in our civil justice system—judges, lawyers, and court administrators—often use procedures that have never been scrutinized for effectiveness. In other situations, civil justice actors adopt innovative changes without first demonstrating that they work. This course introduces students to the rigorous social science evaluation methods that can and should be used to improve access to justice. It familiarizes students with standard techniques for demonstrating whether new ideas carry measurable promise before deploying them in courts and legal practice. Students will apply the skills they have learned to designing and conducted a remote, experimental evaluation of access to justice innovations. No familiarity with statistics, econometrics, and related methodologies is required; the course will focus on quantitative intuition rather than mathematics. Students with advanced training are welcome to enroll if they are interested in applying these tools to socio-legal evaluation.
Graduate Course: UX4Justice
Spring and Fall -- UX4Justice. The justice sector is rapidly adopting technology aimed at delivering legal information, legal services and court services. Citing technology as an emerging access to justice strategy, the justice sector intends to expand the public’s access to their civil legal system through reducing cost and transportation barriers associated with travel to physical legal services and courthouses. Although justice sector technology is rapidly expanding across the U.S., little attention has been paid to whether the people for whom justice sector technology is intended are able to access and use that technology. This course trains students to apply User-Experience (UX) methodologies to the design and evaluation of justice sector technology. UX and its focus on human-centered design helps ensure that people are able to successfully navigate the platforms intended to provide them with digital access to their civil legal system. This is an interdisciplinary, project-based course that exposes students to design thinking, systems thinking, and community-based research. Students work together as a class and with the community. In Spring 2020, this course partnered with the Utah Administrative Office of the Courts and the Pew Charitable Trusts to conduct observation-based usability testing of Utah's online dispute resolution platform -- the first UX evaluation of ODR in the U.S.
Graduate Course: Leadership in Legal Innovation
Spring -- Leadership in Legal Innovation. The Leadership in Legal Innovation course provides an opportunity for students who have completed an entry-level course within the Innovation for Justice Program to advance their understanding of and skills in legal innovation. Students in this course will play a leadership role within the program in one of two ways: (1) active participation as a leader and mentor in an ongoing entry-level Innovation for Justice course, mentoring students who are new to the program and assisting in facilitating of class activities and community engagement; or (2) active participation as a project leader for an ongoing Innovation for Justice project, participating in research and collaborating with the program director, peers and community stakeholders to advance the work of the Innovation for Justice Program. Projects produced by this course include the Cost of Eviction Calculator, which was selected as a finalist in the Georgetown Law IronTech Lawyer Competition and became a leading advocacy tool for raising awareness about the downstream costs of eviction during COVID.
Undergraduate Course: Visualizing Justice
Spring -- Visualizing Justice, LAW/ART 360. This is a 3-credit, interdisciplinary course that combines legal, art and design concepts to explore: (1) what are legal rights; (2) how do we communicate legal rights; (3) how do we navigate legal processes; (4) how can art and design inform how legal rights and legal information are conveyed, in order to empower people and make legal systems more accessible and navigable? This course is co-taught by i4J Director Stacy Butler and associate art professor Kelly Leslie. In Spring 2021, this course will be guest-taught by Hallie Jay Pope of the Graphic Advocacy Project.