The Jeanie Project: help ‘transform’ legal system by equipping community groups with AI technology

A new charity seeking to promote access to justice by equipping hundreds of community groups with ground-breaking technology to support poor and vulnerable people has been launched. The Jeanie Project is an initiative that is being spearhead by the former Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff CBE, together with the Society’s head of legal aid Richard Miller and LawWorks’ chief exec Martin Barnes.

An artificial intelligence platform, developed by Riverview Law, has been made available free of charge and the idea is to use the technology to connect people on low incomes with legal advice and information. The idea is to better enable frontline advisers ‘to ask the right questions and direct the information collection, [collate] what is needed and makes the material available, easily and quickly, to experienced lawyers either directly or through brokerage’.

The platform, known as Kim, claims to represent ‘the next wave of AI-driven automation software that empowers knowledge workers with no IT programing experience to create systems that reflect how their work is actually performed, rather than comply with someone else’s idea of how it should be’.

You can read an article by Roger Smith on his Law, Technology and Access to Justice blog here. According to Smith, a pilot will involve Toynbee Hall and will begin with immigration though other scenarios involving areas of ‘poverty’ or ‘social welfare’ law – including debt and employment as well as family – have been developed. Smith writes: ‘Lucy Scott Moncrieff expresses high hopes that it will expand into MPs surgeries (clearly a shrewd tactical move) and other civil society organisations. The theory is that the software will allow organisations to input their own specifically relevant data. Ms Scott Moncrieff says, “This is a way to make access to legal advice more fair, more equal and faster – and it’s beautifully simple.”’

‘As a legal aid lawyer myself, I’m aware that an important part of the process is sitting with the client and exploring what the legal issues might be,’ Scott-Moncrieff told the LegalFutures site.

‘Pro bono and legal aid lawyers are under enormous pressure. This is a way of enabling organisations like food banks to do the initial work and forward the case to lawyers for a possible solution, in a form that allows them to deal with it more easily. MPs’ surgeries are often the first port of call for members of public unable to access overburdened advice agencies. This could help constituency workers, who often have links with local lawyers, send them work more quickly and efficiently.’
Lucy Scott Moncrieff

The Jeanie Project is looking to raise £7,500 through the CrowdJustice site to enable them to work prior to a launch early next year. Support them here.

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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