Although a majority of the civil legal needs of Amer­i­cans go unmet, many recent law grad­u­ates across the country con­tinue to face a soft job market. Now, a newly launched inno­va­tion lab at the School of Law is seeking to tackle this problem head on and close the jus­tice gap.

The NuLawLab, launched in May and located in Dockser Hall, is exploring new avenues for deliv­ering legal assis­tance and edu­cating lawyers in order for more people to have access to legal ser­vices. Its exec­u­tive director, Dan Jackson, said the lab builds on the School of Law’s long­standing com­mit­ment to social justice.

The time is right to bring together lawyers and a range of other dis­ci­plines to create a future where everyone has access to the legal ser­vices they need,” Jackson said.

During its launch phase, the NuLawLab has been charting its future course with the help of law school fac­ulty and an advi­sory board that includes cross-​​disciplinary experts from the fields of law, edu­ca­tion, art, archi­tec­ture, tech­nology, and public health. “We feel we can’t do it alone,” said Jules Sievert, the lab’s con­tent curator. “There is great poten­tial in cross-​​disciplinary collaboration.”

One method the NuLawLab is using to gen­erate new ideas is “design thinking.” Orig­i­nally employed by product designers, design thinking is now being used to spur cre­ativity in other pro­fes­sions by exploring what is desired from a human per­spec­tive, what is tech­no­log­i­cally fea­sible, and what is eco­nom­i­cally viable.

Design thinking holds a lot of poten­tial for closing the legal ser­vices gap because of the emphasis it places on the needs of the people for whom you are cre­ating the solu­tion,” Jackson said.

To test this method’s poten­tial, the lab is involved in a new project led by the socially engaged art studio REV– to build an infor­ma­tion hot­line that will edu­cate domestic workers in Mass­a­chu­setts about their legal rights. The project’s participants—three North­eastern law stu­dents as well as the Boston-​​based Brazilian Immi­grant Center and the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Technology’s Center for Civic Media—are working together to develop an infor­ma­tion tool that can effec­tively reach workers who often work in isolation.

Not only are the law stu­dents con­tributing tra­di­tional legal skills such as research and writing, they are also par­tic­i­pating in the cre­ative process from the outset,” Sievert said.

The School of Law chose a lab­o­ra­tory model for this new ini­tia­tive in order to create a safe space for inven­tive exper­i­men­ta­tion in a pro­fes­sion that needs to flex its cre­ative muscles. “When given the oppor­tu­nity, lawyers bring tremen­dous inven­tive­ness to problem-​​solving,” said Jeremy Paul, dean of the School of Law. “We intend the NuLawLab to pro­vide a forward-​​looking oppor­tu­nity for our community—a col­lab­o­ra­tive space that stim­u­lates inno­v­a­tive thinking about issues in legal edu­ca­tion, law, and tech­nology, as well as the future of legal practice.”