The University of Newcastle, Australia

As a postgraduate student studying a Master of Laws, David saw the endless possibilities that could come from expanding his knowledge in technology and how it can used to benefit the legal system.

“I found the concept of a law course that focused on how technology could support the legal system very interesting,” said David.

Signing up for the Legal Innovation and Design course, David found his calling and the program he would need to enhance his legal learning pathway.

“I formed a team with fellow students and together we worked on a project that could help improve the current process of divorce.

“We started with the question – how might we help couples dissolve a marriage cheaply and efficiently? Through community consultation we realised a lot of people who separated were disoriented by the large amount of information present online.”

“We came up with the idea of a chatbot which would reassure and inform users about their options regarding separation, including protection against domestic violence, legal rights and responsibilities, social wellbeing, and access to professional help.

“We also created a website with a forum for people with separation issues to ask questions and discuss issues they had amongst themselves - creating a supportive online community,” added David.

While the concept is in its infancy, it holds the potential to have a positive impact on many people. In order to take their project to the next level, David and his team are currently applying for a government grant to continue to pursue the concept.

“If we did receive funding, our next steps would be to bring in a programmer to develop the intelligence of the chatbot and a psychologist to improve the chatbot's personality.

“We could also monitor and moderate the forum to ensure it remains accessible to all and provide free services and listings to community legal centres, pro bono solicitors and bulk-billing doctors and psychologists.

“This course has allowed me to pitch solutions for current, technologically-solvable, real-world problems that lawyers have which has been engaging, interesting and very rewarding,” concluded David.

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David Behne-Smith

David Behne-Smith

David Behne-Smith (left) is a current student at the University of Newcastle, studying the Legal Innovation and Design course (LAWS6116) as part of the Master of Laws.

This course has allowed me to pitch solutions for current, technologically-solvable, real-world problems that lawyers have which has been engaging, interesting and very rewarding.