Law School unlocks the benefits of digitalisation for marginalised people

19 Jun 2017
A2J Innovation Clinic
Left to Right (back row):  LawRight Supervisor: Andrea Perry-Petersen;  Law students Callum Gribbin, Bridie McQueenie, Wil Alam.
Front Row:  Law students Shonna Lye, Emma McLean, Thanaphol Pattanasri.

The University of Queensland is increasing its focus on access to justice for marginalised people by unlocking the benefits digitalisation is delivering for the legal profession.

UQ’s TC Beirne School of Law, in partnership with Queensland community legal centre LawRight, will next Semester launch the Access 2 Justice (A2J) & Innovation Clinic, a rebranded placement focussed explicitly on how digital innovation can increase access, especially for self-represented litigants.

Monica Taylor, Director of the UQ Pro Bono Centre and coordinator of the clinic said technology had the potential to provide invaluable help to people in need throughout Australia.

“New technologies can increase access to justice for everyday Australians,” Ms Taylor said.

“However there is also a risk that some people may find themselves further excluded, as technological changes outpace their ability to self-help. 

“In the A2J & Innovation Clinic we want students to engage with these ideas and debates – to gain an understanding about the systemic barriers that prevent people from gaining adequate assistance, as well as learning how to employ design-thinking skills to create innovative solutions in areas of civil law.”

LawRight lawyer and UQ alumna Andrea Perry-Petersen said the clinic would help LawRight better service its client base.

“Rebranding this clinic reflects the need for community legal centres to pursue an innovation agenda and new approaches to meet the growing demand for legal assistance,” Ms Perry-Petersen said. 

UQ law student Bridie McQueen said the opportunity to embrace new technology was invaluable to her learning.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to finish the final semester of my degree with exposure to a new and exciting legal technology and a greater appreciation for the shifting landscape of the profession,” she said.

“It is important that law students are prepared to face the inevitable digital disruption of the legal industry.”

TC Beirne School of Law Executive Dean, Professor Sarah Derrington said UQ was “pioneering the use of clinical legal education to address innovation in the legal profession”. 

“Like all of our of law clinics, the A2J & Innovation Clinic is located off-campus and embedded in a community legal centre.

“Apart from contributing to real solutions, students will gain skills associated with participation in clinic such as team work, project management and communication; with the added advantage of technical literacy, something that will be increasingly desirable to employers and their clients.”