Law Newbie democratizes answers to legal queries

Queen’s law grad supported the initial stages of research and development

Image by: Herbert Wang
Law Newbie provides answers to some common legal questions that are not analytical.

Technology is changing the legal landscape, and Lawyer Jordan Donich is working to streamline answers to basic legal questions.

Though it isn’t legal advice or substitute for a lawyer, Law Newbie is a legal chatbox software that Donich developed by licensing the underlying chatbox software and making changes to the user interface. Law Newbie is designed to democratize access to basic criminal and civil legal questions that might be asked by a client looking to connect with a lawyer.

During the development process of Law Newbie, Donich hired Sarah MacDonald, Law ’20, as a summer research student. She worked extensively with other law students at the time to train the chatbot with researched information.

“There’s not a lot of innovation [in the legal profession]. It’s scary as a lawyer because you don’t want to get sued. You’re taking a risk,” Donich said in an interview with The Journal.

“[Law Newbie] is bridging the gap between people who don’t have a lawyer and people who need a lawyer. It’s a lot of answers to questions. That doesn’t require as much of an analysis,” MacDonald said in an interview with The Journal.

Most technology in the legal profession is currently aimed at allowing lawyers to efficiently practice law. Donich’s site works to create an interface for clients who are looking for guidance on which questions to ask a legal professional.

Accessibility in law is important for those who might not be able to afford legal services and need direction, explained MacDonald. Having access to accurate and reliable information also allows people to save precious time when dealing with legal problems.

“I worked at a legal clinic when I was at Queen’s. We were able to help people with those questions. But there’s a certain income cap where you’re able to qualify for those services,” MacDonald said.

Future development of legal chatboxes means the potential for development across many areas of law. This would help broaden the scope of the types of issues clients can receive support for.

“The way I see it, is that it could encourage other law firms who have different practice areas to develop similar tools. If you need advice about a will, an estate matter, or corporate issue […] other types of firms could utilize it,” MacDonald said.

As it stands, Donich remains involved with the programming of Law Newbie. He still works to program the chatbot to answer new and evolving queries. He said the most common query is asking for legal advice, which he shuts down.

With changing technology, legislation and regulations are catching up. Now well out of law school, MacDonald said her experience in a technology law club at Queen’s was important, along with the case studies related to technology taught in courses. This is part of a broader trend at better integrating technology and legal education across the board according to Donich.


innovation, Law, lawyer, Technology

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