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Law Apps (LAWS90033)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeLAWS90033
Availability(Quotas apply)
Semester 1
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

In Law Apps students will design, build and release a live legal expert system that can provide legal advice to non-lawyers. Legal expert systems (law apps) are applications that replicate the thought processes and actions of a lawyer in connection with a specific legal question. Law apps are a new and growing part of the legal landscape. Lawyers in Australia and overseas are using them to provide fast, accurate and cost effective answers to common legal problems.

The subject involves a series of distinct but related topics and tasks:

  • The current role and future role of law apps;
  • The identification of appropriate legal problems in the not-for-profit sector that can be answered by law apps;
  • The design of sequences of appropriate questions and answers which culminate in the provision of correct legal advice for the problems;
  • The authoring of a law app using the Neota Logic platform; and
  • The release of the law app in a live web and or tablet/mobile based environment.

The semester will commence with an introductory survey of the role of legal analysis and advice programs and the use of artificial intelligence in legal advice in Australia and overseas. Students will be required to research, imagine and predict the future use of such technology in and beyond the legal profession. Students will be introduced to the fundamentals of law apps design and basic mastery of Neota Logic’s authoring tools. The Neota Logic platform does not require coding knowledge or application. It has been used in Australia and overseas as a platform of choice for lawyers building law apps. Throughout the semester students will have access to advice from Neota Logic's experts.

As the semester progresses the subject will explore other ways that technology is being incorporated into legal practice. Guest speakers from the profession and experts in digital technology will present in seminars. There is a light reading load in this subject as students will be required to spend time outside the seminars working in their groups on the design, authoring and release of their live Law App. The semester will culminate with a Law Apps Bake Off - groups will present their Law Apps to an invited panel of experts and the winning group will receive a prize.

At the commencement of the semester students will be provided with a choice of pre-identified not-for-profit organisations that are interested in being involved in the Law Apps subject. Students will be required to list which organisation they would like to work with in order of preference.

Students will be placed in a small group of three or four students and will work in that group throughout the semester. In collaboration with the not-for-profit organization, groups will identify suitable common legal problems that can be answered through a series of structured questions. This will involve visiting the organisations and meeting with key staff so that students understand the relevant needs and concerns of clients and the wider non-lawyer public. This group-focused process will enable students to build on and develop their skills in legal analysis, creativity, problem solving and innovation. The teacher will meet regularly with students individually and with groups to check on progress and to work with the group on any issues that may arise within the group. Part of the assessment for the subject is a group mark. This mark will be awarded equally across all students in the group unless an individual’s contribution falls substantially below the contribution of other students in the group, in which case that individual's mark will be reduced.

Intended learning outcomes

This subject will build on the research and analysis skills developed within the JD program. A student who has successfully completed the subject will:

  • Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the role of automated legal analysis system design;
  • Have expert, specialised cognitive and technical skills to:
    • Analyse critically, reflect on and synthesise complex information, legal problems and concepts; and
    • Design and construct a Law App which can be used by a non-specialist audience.
  • Be able to work effectively with external organisations to identify and articulate specific legal questions that can be appropriately answered by a Law App;
  • Develop and enhance their collaborative and teamwork skills; and
  • Analyse, critically reflect on and communicate their personal perspectives on their learning in the subject.

Last updated: 12 September 2019