By Rachel Rosenfeld, Amanda Krause, and Tyler Gaston Georgetown University Law Center
This past February, Mark O’Brien, Pro Bono Net Executive Director, went down to DC to Georgetown Law School to present to Professor Tanina Rostain’s Technology, Innovation, and Law Practice seminar at Georgetown University Law Center about access to justice, current technologies, and Pro Bono Net.
During the class, teams partnered with legal service providers, civil rights organizations, and state agencies to design apps, built in Neota Logic and A2J Author, to increase access to justice. These projects are based on practical needs, not theoretical problems. Students projects were judged at Iron Tech Lawyer, a competition held at Georgetown Law, where student teams show off the apps they built in our Technology Innovation and Law Practice practicum. Appearing before a panel of judges, students compete for prizes for Excellence in Design, Excellence in Presentation, and the all around best app: Iron Tech Lawyer.
Georgetown University Law Center is creating legal applications to help clients around the U.S. with various legal issues as part of a practicum course called Technology, Innovation, and Law Practice. Our group assisted the National Women’s Law Center with a very current and pressing matter: the bullying and harassment of students who do not conform to gender stereotypes, i.e. “gender-based harassment.” Gender-based harassment includes harassment or bullying because a student does not fit gender stereotypes—for example, harassment of a female student because she does not act the way her peers think girls should act.
The National Women’s Law Center has expanded the possibilities for women and girls in this country by getting new laws on the books and enforced, litigating ground-breaking cases all the way to the Supreme Court, and educating the public about ways to make laws and public policies work for women and their families. Today NWLC continues to advance the issues that cut to the core of women’s lives in education, employment, family and economic security, and health and reproductive rights—with special attention given to the needs of low-income women and their families.
One of the laws NWLC focuses on is Title IX. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex- including bullying or harassment- in schools that receive federal funding. It is not just about sports! A school may violate Title IX when serious sex-based harassment by classmates is encouraged, tolerated, not adequately addressed, or ignored by school employees. The Title IX application assists students who were bullied or harassed because they don’t conform to gender stereotypes. The app gives students resources they will need to get help if they have experienced gender-based harassment, including identifying the ways they can advocate for themselves with their schools.
The application was created by Georgetown Students as a public service that will be offered by the National Women’s Law Center on their website. A student experiencing bullying or harassment at school, a parent of the student experiencing bullying or harassment at school, or someone else advocating on behalf of a student (teacher, coach, social worker, etc.) is the target group of users for this application. By answering the short questions in the application, it is able to give preliminary tailored information for students and parents regarding a student’s rights under Title IX and self-advocacy suggestions. This application helps attorneys collect stories, and aggregate data for later statistical analysis. Though the advisor is not a substitute for an attorney, it is designed to help a student who is experiencing harassment at school understand his or her legal options.
Web apps like the one created for NWLC are the future of the legal profession. The Technology, Innovation and Law Practice practicum course at Georgetown gave students hands-on experience in working with clients to build these apps that will significantly increase outreach in various important issue areas, such as Title IX, to help increase access to justice.