Brief abstracts of conference sessions will be listed here once the final program has been confirmed.

Title: Coaching Community Connection On-Line: Examples from a Housing Justice Chatbot Building Clinic

Lead Presenter: Juergens, Ann


  1. McFaul, Hugh
  2. Ryan, Francine

Session Abstract: HARNESSING TECHNOLOGY FOR JUSTICE EDUCATION [This is a combination of Sessions 20-21: Digital Justice and Coaching Community Connection On-Line, with Ann Juergens (US), Hugh McFaul and Francine Ryan (UK)] Technological innovation is changing the way in which legal services are delivered and is opening new possibilities for citizens to engage with the justice system. This interactive 90 minute workshop will explore how technologies can be adapted for the purpose of justice education and community empowerment. To inform the discussion, we will report on two novel and complementary technology projects that have been piloted in the UK and USA. Project 1 Digital Justice The Open University Law School’s Open Justice Centre has experimented with student-led development of smartphone apps for the purposes of justice education. This session will report on a small-scale empirical study of an interdisciplinary project where law students worked with computing experts on the design of smartphone apps to provide information and guidance to the public. The project was designed to engage students with the realities of professional legal practice in the information age by exploring how their academic legal knowledge and skills can be put to practical use by making the innovative application of technology. Project 2 Housing Justice Chat Bots The ability to connect with a community and assist in its justice challenges is a competency every law student should acquire. At Mitchell Hamline Law School, two professors coached students enrolled in our on-line program (the first fully accredited on-line law program in the U.S.) to engage in housing justice issues in their disparate towns and communities across the country. Our pathway for that engagement was the collaboration of each student with a housing justice organization in their own locale, and then the building of a small chatbot for each organization. The chatbots gave relevant legal information in interactive format suitable for posting on the organizations’ websites. One of our various teaching goals was to identify key issues for taming artificial intelligence, e.g., chatbots, so that it can assist—rather than take over—justice education. The majority of this combined session will involve participants working collaboratively to develop principles that can inform the development of effective technology-enhanced justice interventions. It is hoped that this will spark new ideas and future collaborations.

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