Talk Justice, an LSC Podcast: Will AI Be Accessible?

Carl Rauscher    
Director of Communications and Media Relations    

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WASHINGTON–Legal tech experts discuss how emerging tools that incorporate generative AI might fit into the future of accessible legal services on the latest episode of LSC's “Talk Justice” podcast, released today. Talk Justice Co-host Molly McDonough is joined by guests Jane Ribadeneyra, program analyst for technology at LSC, and Angela Tripp, director of the Michigan Legal Help Program which oversees

The pandemic has propelled the legal system’s use of technology forward, with services like remote court and e-filing remaining available in many jurisdictions. But now, as talk about AI dominates the conversation, many in the legal services field are considering if and how this tool could improve and expand their work.

“In the last several months it's gone from more theoretical conversations [about AI] to more practical conversations,” says Tripp. “There is a lot more interest, a lot more curiosity, but there's still concerns…primarily around bias and privacy and the risks of courts and other agencies as decision-making bodies using tools that they don't fully understand—tools that are built by people who may be prioritizing efficiency and speed over due process.”

 Over the past several years, Ribadeneyra has seen legal aid organizations receiving LSC’s Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) attempt to utilize AI and related technology to do things like analyze information from legal forms or create chatbots with mixed success. But now that the latest iteration of Chat GPT has shown such significant improvement, she says the further AI integration seems inevitable—so rather than focusing on if we will use AI, the conversation has shifted to how we will use AI.

I think the other thing to be concerned about is the increased digital divide around these tools—you're going to see the bigger law firms, and those who have the resources to incorporate these tools into their systems and their technologies being able to take advantage of them—and then it's going to be harder for other organizations or people who are trying to help low-income people,” Ribadeneyra says.  

Tripp agrees that accessibility of AI tools will be an issue in the legal system.  

“The big firms can purchase the AI software that is specifically trained on legal information and legal knowledge and has fewer hallucinations, whereas self-represented litigants will be using Bing and not have that same quality and have a better chance of running into [problems], and it could do more harm than good in that environment,” Tripp says.  

Tripp and Ribadeneyra agree that while there are several aspects of AI to be cautious about, there are also already great applications for self-represented litigants and legal aid, such as chatbots that can help people identify their legal problem and direct them to the relevant resources. Some legal aid providers and courts are making these tools accessible at kiosks and online, like Tripp’s team has begun to at  

Giving their “wish lists” for the future of AI in legal spaces, Ribadeneyra wants more funding directed toward legal aid organizations so that there can be equitable use of AI. Tripp says she hopes for more education, official standards for AI and transparency in its use.  

A previous episode of “Talk Justice” that covered additional topics related to AI is available here.

Future episodes of the podcast will feature a discussion about the app FosterPower, which gives foster children information about their rights, and an interview with Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a former LSC general counsel.  

Talk Justice episodes are available online and on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple and other popular podcast apps. The podcast is sponsored by LSC’s Leaders Council.    

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974. For 50 years, LSC has provided financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 131 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.