SEATTLE—Today, WordRake Holdings, LLC, a software company focused on clear and concise editing for professionals, announced its collaboration with the Access to Justice Tech Fellowship Program (the “ATJ Program”) for Summer 2020 and the 2020-21 academic year. Because written communication is the backbone of the United States legal system, improving it is important for people seeking access to justice and the lawyers who hope to serve them. Jargon creates a barrier for everyday Americans and through this collaboration WordRake and the ATJ Program hope to lower those barriers.
“I’m passionate about the intersection of writing and justice because I recognize the power of words. A lawyer succeeds based on the strength and clarity of her words and a legal system works when laypeople can navigate it with a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities,” said Ivy B. Grey, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at WordRake. “By supporting justice-based plain language technology projects and contributing to developing strong writing skills of diverse law students in the pipeline, WordRake can help build a better, fairer, more accessible system.”
The ATJ Program is a national 10-week summer fellowship program that trains law students to work with technology to improve delivery of legal services. Miguel Willis founded the ATJ Program while a student at Seattle University School of Law. When he joined the Law School Admission Council as its first Presidential Innovation Fellow in 2018, he brought the ATJ Program with him and expanded it. Now in its fourth year, the program supports 23 fellows from 20 law schools and offers one-on-one mentoring.
“I created this program to provide pathways for entrepreneurial law students who want nontraditional learning experiences and nontraditional opportunities to improve the legal system,” recalls Miguel. “I wrote my way to this opportunity (and discovered WordRake in the process), so I know how important it is to write well.”
This year, the ATJ Program fellows are working on several technology projects that include plain language elements. A sampling of the projects includes:
- James Cho, Lagniappe Law Lab –James was placed with Lagniappe Law Lab, a Louisiana-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. James supports the improvement of their websites, developing statewide automated forms, and the advancement of the Louisiana Civil Legal Navigator project. James is also assisting in the restructuring and organization of content on the site as it moves to a refreshed version. James’ duties include reviewing public-facing content for plain language, legal accuracy, and completeness.
- Mandy Li, Fulton County State Court Self-Help Center – Mandy is part of the team responsible for creating a strategic plan to improve services for Self-Represented Litigants in Georgia. Mandy’s project for the Fulton County State Court Self-Help Center includes development of website content for the plain language resource explaining the different jurisdictions served by the three courts within their complex, and a plain language glossary of legal terms and plain language instructions for the State Court E-Filing system.
- Faith Wanjiku, Legal Services State Support – Faith is working with the team at Legal Services State Support a project of the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition. The project’s mission is to improve the statewide legal information website, www.lawhelpmn.org, with better interactive content. The project also involves using plain language and knowledge test results to revise fact sheets to make the content clear.
“WordRake is the perfect partner for these projects,” said Miguel. “The software will help our fellows improve their writing skills as well as the quality and clarity of the language they use in their access to justice projects. Yearlong access to WordRake means our fellows will continue to grow, even after their fellowships end.”
All 23 ATJ Program fellows will receive a one-year WordRake license to use the software for their fellowship projects, personal projects, and schoolwork. The ATJ Program training is online and covers technology competence, project management, legal design thinking, and cultural competency.
“We’re excited to support the ATJ Program by providing WordRake. We strongly believe that technology can improve delivery of legal services. WordRake is a low-cost tool that any organization can afford. It’s easy to use and the benefits of clear and concise communication are immediate,” said Ivy.
WordRake was created so lawyers could focus on their legal analysis without using unnecessary verbiage. While teaching over 1,000 legal writing programs, WordRake founder Gary Kinder identified a set of signals that would indicate wordiness and muddled writing. Those signals became the foundation for WordRake editing software.
Launched in 2012, WordRake is editing software designed by writing expert and New York Times bestselling author Gary Kinder. WordRake runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggestions appear in the familiar track-changes style. It uses complex, patented algorithms to find and improve weak lead-ins, confusing language, and high-level grammar and usage slips.
About Access to Justice Tech Fellowship Program
The Access to Justice Tech Fellows Program is supported by the Law School Admission Council, a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting quality, access, and equity in law and education. The ATJ Program was designed to identify and equip the next generation of civil justice leaders to ensure equitable access to justice for all. The program nurtures law students to become agile lawyers who will drive bold change and become catalysts in developing innovative solutions that responsively address the legal needs and challenges marginalized communities face. In its third year, the program has helped legal aid organizations by providing law students to assist with technology projects that solve access to justice issues.