Coding for Cultural Competency: Expanding Access to Justice with Technology

57 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2019 Last revised: 23 Jan 2020

See all articles by Sherley Cruz

Sherley Cruz

University of Tennessee College of Law

Date Written: June 30, 2019


Innovations in legal technology are revolutionizing access to justice for individuals who previously had little or no ability to obtain legal assistance. This Article explores how the lack of culturally competent designs within legal technology negatively impacts diverse communities, thereby hindering the ability to expand access to justice. An examination of the underlying theories of access to justice and cultural competency illustrates why it is necessary for legal professionals and technology designers to incorporate culturally competent designs when developing legal technology. In light of ongoing changes in United States’ demographics, and the heightened need to provide access to justice given the current political climate, this Article uses the example of the Latinx community to illustrate how culture impacts the effectiveness of legal technology. Applying cross- cultural competence theory to legal technology allows for the identification of potential risks and provides a critical point of view from which to generate design principles that will increase access to justice for all.

Keywords: technology, cultural competency, language access, A2J, literacy, access to justice, apps, computer, internet, Latinx, Latinos, low-income, barriers, search engines, community, immigrants, demographics, design, design principles, cross-cultural, LEP, limited English proficient, implicit bias

Suggested Citation

Cruz, Sherley, Coding for Cultural Competency: Expanding Access to Justice with Technology (June 30, 2019). Tennessee Law Review, Vol. 86, No. 347, 2019, Available at SSRN:

Sherley Cruz (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States

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