The Canadian family law system is in crisis.

Unprecedented delays and high legal fees leave many unable to access the information and assistance they need. At underfunded legal aid offices that consistently work at capacity these problems are exacerbated.

Because the lack of funding Legal Aid receives and the delays clients face are intrinsically linked, legal scholars suggest solutions that combat both problems at once. One of these solutions has been the implementation of triage officers.

A triage officer is responsible for collecting intake information from new clients, assessing their legal issues, and determining where a client’s case should be directed. This streamlines those with complicated legal issues to lawyers and other clients elsewhere, thus reducing delays and stretching the office’s limited funding a little further.

 

The triage process is helpful, but there’s room for improvement.

While triage officers play an important role in providing legal aid, many of their responsibilities (like providing general legal information, determining whether a client is eligible for legal aid, and assisting clients with forms and applications) don’t necessarily require human interaction. In fact, it seems many of a triage officer’s responsibilities could be replaced by machine learning AI.

If these responsibilities were handled by an AI application, triage officers could move up the value chain and focus their attention on the responsibilities that require special attention.

The app could prepare payment agreements, direct clients to lawyers or information centres, and provide client-specific information about proceedings and court practices. It could provide plain language answers to a variety of legal questions and could determine if a client can benefit from a legal aid certificate.

Further, a triage assistant application could mathematically predict the most helpful avenue for the client’s situation (i.e. Alternate dispute resolution or litigation) based on the information gathered from the client’s answers to plain language questions. This goes beyond a triage officer’s capability since triage officers struggle with towing the line between providing general legal information and having what they say construed as legal advice. An application with a predictive capability could dramatically enhance the streamlining process that a triage officer is responsible for and would ensure clients are directed to appropriate avenues.

The primary responsibilities of a triage officer are to process applications and to make eligibility decisions based on legal and financial information. Machine learning AI could not only adequately perform these tasks, but it could also mathematically predict which dispute resolution avenue would provide the highest and lowest suitability.

Changes like these would improve the efficiency of the clinic, stretch funding further, and allow more clients to access the legal information and assistance they need. 

Miralaw is developing these and other solutions today. To find out more, contact us.

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