Right to (Robot) Representation
We believe all Americans deserve understandable, affordable access to the legal system. The Automated Advocates Project helps them achieve it by making new technological tools available at scale.
Most people will need civil legal help at some point in their lifetime. Common civil legal problems include: divorce, custody, eviction, personal bankruptcy, small claims, and traffic citations.
But studies show that when that moment comes, more than 80% of low-income Americans will not have access to the legal help they need. Lawyers are powerful and can lead to better outcomes in courts, but they are also expensive, hard to find, and only guaranteed for people in the criminal justice system.
Doesn’t everyone deserve access to justice?
Fortunately, there is good news. Access to justice leaders have been experimenting with a new type of tool, one that can help guide litigants and get their documents and decisions in order before they have to decide whether or not they need to work with a lawyer. We call these tools Automated Advocates. Now we need the rules to catch up with what technology has made possible.
Automated Advocates come in the form of websites, chatbots, or apps. They do two things for litigants:
1) First, they help them personally. They get to know their situation and then save them time and work by guiding them through their legal options and auto-generating materials.
2) Second, they help future people like them from having to struggle with the same problem. They create reports about the cumulative experience of people they help and share it back with the court system and advocacy groups to get the system to work better in the future.
These tools are still in the early stages. In order to continue to grow, they need regulatory flexibility about who can practice law; a common field definition and set of standards to distinguish good actors from bad; and a set of market incentives paired with Requests for Startups to encourage creative new market entrants. This website exists to bring together a community of builders, supporters, and regulators around a common understanding of Automated Advocates, so that future Americans can receive the legal support that they deserve.
Explore the Potential of Automated Advocates
- Read the Field Definition of Automated Advocates
- Evaluate a tool against shared Design Principles
- Inspire the building of new Automated Advocates with a Requests for Startups for your area
This is a project of the Aspen Institute’s Tech Policy Hub.
Explore this and other fellowship projects at https://www.aspentechpolicyhub.org/.