Campbell Law School students have been working with software platform company Neota Logic to develop an app to aid with criminal record expunction requests. The beta version launched over the weekend on Saturday, Oct. 13.
The idea for the app formulated after North Carolina implemented major changes in its expunction law in December 2017. The waiting period for misdemeanor convictions went down from 15 years to five years, while the felony conviction wait period lowered from 15 years to 10 years. Lawmakers also removed the limit on the number of dismissals that could be expunged.
This change has resulted in a significant increase in the number of residents seeking help through the clinic and other providers to expunge their records, said Ashley Campbell, director of the law school’s Blanchard Community Law Clinic.
The new application was proposed by Campbell Law School’s Adjunct Professor Tom Brooke, who saw the need to to apply technology to support legal aid. At Campbell Law, Brooke teaches “Coding for Lawyers.”
Brooke had his students use the Neota Logic app development tool-set because it’s designed for use by people without technical backgrounds, but enables the programming of complex reasoning.
Law students turned app developers
The app’s software was created by New York-based Neota Logic and has development tools which allows law students to build their own platform. The for-loop statement process, which utilizes input and output logical reasoning, allows the clinic to have the app formulate whether a person is eligible for expunction, while also automatically filling out a form from the information.
“Neota Logic enables people without coding skills to build apps that automate the thinking and actions of experts,” said Kevin Mulcahy, Vice President of Education and Community Programs at Neota Logic.
By using Neota Logic’s software, Brooke and the students are able to alter or monitor the input values and fix them as needed. The expertise automation application, also known as expert systems, allows users to take a rule-based process and automate it so that it can be done over and over again without having to go back to the experts, said Mulcahy.
“Law students run their lives through apps, but they generally don’t feel they are able develop apps unless they have coding skills, said Mulcahy. “When students are introduced to Neota Logic, they discover their power to program and get quite excited about what they can do with that power.”
And they’re getting to do just that with Neota Logic.
Neota Logic partners with other law schools as well, including Georgetown, Cornell, and the University of Melbourne, to help the schools to teach programming skills to students and improve access to justice through software applications.