Mobile and Web-Based Legal Apps: Opportunities, Risks and Information Gaps
Canadian Journal of Law and Technology, Fall 2017, Forthcoming
41 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2017 Last revised: 16 Jun 2017
Date Written: April 28, 2017
Mobile and web-based apps are one technology with the potential to improve access to justice, either by helping lawyers increase the efficiency of service delivery or by reducing the need for recourse to lawyers altogether for some legal needs.
Notwithstanding growing excitement about the potential presented by legal apps, there has been no comprehensive study regarding the range of such apps currently available to Canadians, nor has there been a concrete exploration of what these apps purport to do and whether they have the capacity to actually improve access to justice.
In this paper, we offer a preliminary taxonomy of the legal apps available in Canada, of which we have identified approximately 50. This taxonomy seeks to identify developers, targeted users and the functions that legal apps are designed to perform. Further, we contribute to future policy discussions about legal apps through an analysis of the potential benefits and risks of using this technology in the pursuit of access to justice. Finally, we conclude with a call for dedicated empirical data and research on legal apps in Canada and for increased policy attention to leveraging the opportunities and mitigating the risks presented by legal apps.
Keywords: apps, law, legal technology, access to justice
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