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Legal Innovation: CLSMF and UCF team up to create a consumer law chatbot

When a large need is met with limited means, creativity starts flowing. CLSMF is trying to serve more than one million people in their 12-county area who qualify for legal help. CLSMF Director of Information Technology, Josh Lazar says, “We know the need is great because our attorney-staffed helpline receives more than 2,800 calls for help every month.”

The question then becomes, how can technology help serve the needs of the community with limited resources? The technological answer is developing an artificial intelligence assistant. CLSMF won a Technology Innovation Grant (TIG) from the Legal Services Corporation, and embarked on an ambitious journey to create a Consumer Law Chatbot. The Chatbot will interact with people who are seeking legal help, but cannot directly retain an attorney because they cannot afford to pay legal fees. Users of the system can ask the Chatbot questions, which the Chatbot will analyze for Consumer Law issues. If the program determines with reasonable certainty that an issue exists, their chat session will be transferred to a case management system for an attorney to review.

Several stakeholders are being engaged to make this project a success. This includes a Computer Science senior design team from the University of Central Florida, access to one of the largest legal data sets in the world, and an Access to Justice (ATJ ) Fellow for Summer 2018. By the Summer, CLSMF looks forward to bringing on board a technology vendor, an
independent evaluator, and project partners to make this project a success.