Meet Professor Ronald W. Staudt and Orijit Ghoshal '11
Professor Ron Staudt directs the law school's Center for Access to Justice & Technology and oversees the certificate program in public interest law. Student Orijit Ghoshal worked as an AmeriCorps member during his first year out of college and spent the following year with a legal aid organization in Seattle. While in law school, he spent one summer working for the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago and another summer working on enforcement with the Region 5 office of the EPA. He currently works for a nonprofit organization in Chicago practicing public utility and energy law.
Prof. Staudt: In the Center for Access to Justice & Technology, our summer associates and students in my Justice & Technology Practicum use our A2J Author software to develop interactive, Web-based questionnaires-called Guided Interviews-that walk low-income people through the process of preparing papers to file in court. Whether the issue is a threatened eviction or a consumer contract, low-income people who cannot find a lawyer can click a button then answer some questions online to prepare a document they can sign and drop at the courthouse.
Orijit: After college, I worked for two years in legal aid. We used IIT Chicago-Kent's A2J Author software to automate document production for family, housing and consumer cases. The software leverages manpower: one law student or public interest attorney can create a Guided Interview that hundreds of clients can use.
Prof. Staudt: Orijit came to the law school already familiar with our software and technical solutions, having used them in the field. He brought a sophisticated understanding of how legal aid works and how technology can benefit the process. He also urged me to create the Justice & Technology Practicum as a structured way for students to earn credit while learning new skills and simultaneously helping legal aid deliver more efficient services.
Orijit: In addition to the new Practicum class, student associates work with A2J Author each summer. Professor Staudt is willing to give students full responsibility for developing the Guided Interviews. We go to him all the time with questions, but he lets us run the project as we see fit. That teaches us how to manage projects, an important aspect of legal practice.