PROVO, Utah, Oct. 24, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- BYU Law today announced its LawX legal design lab will join forces with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, the world's premier technology law firm, and SixFifty, the technology subsidiary of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, to simplify the asylum process through design thinking.
"We established LawX to teach students design thinking in tackling pressing access-to-justice issues, and we are honored to work on this project with Wilson Sonsini and SixFifty," said Gordon Smith, dean, BYU Law. "Asylum fits nicely with the work BYU Law is already doing on immigration."
Several times each year as part of the school's commitment to social change, BYU Law faculty and students volunteer at the South Texas Family Detention Center in Dilley, Texas – the largest detention center in the country – to assist with credible fear interviews for women seeking asylum. Eighty percent of BYU Law students speak a language other than English, and many students speak languages needed for the work in the detention center. In addition, working in partnership with Deseret Industries, BYU Law offers direct representation on immigration law and other matters to Utah Valley's most vulnerable populations in the BYU Law Community Legal Clinic.
Asylum is a particularly acute problem for our justice system. According to the Migration Policy Institute based on July 2019 data released by the Department of Homeland Security, there are extensive backlogs in asylum petition reviews due to large application volume and limited resources. At the end of January 2019, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there were more than 800,000 total immigration cases pending, of which MPI estimated roughly 30 percent were defensive asylum cases.
To tackle the asylum issue, BYU Law students enrolled during the LawX winter 2020 semester will utilize a design-thinking approach to build on the lessons learned from two previous LawX projects, both of which have produced successful solutions. SoloSuit is an award-winning online tool to help self-represented people who have been sued for a debt, and Hello Landlord is an online tenant-landlord communication tool designed to reduce evictions. Design thinking is a process for creative problem solving. It encourages organizations to focus on the people they're creating for, which results in better products, services and processes.
"We have been impressed by LawX and SixFifty's work in tackling important legal issues through design thinking and its ability to bring pro bono solutions to people who do not otherwise have access to legal representation," said Doug Clark, managing partner at Wilson Sonsini. "We have had a long-standing commitment to address asylum challenges and look forward to expanding on our successful work through partnering with LawX and SixFifty on these pressing issues."
In the winter semester 2020, LawX will be co-taught by Kimball D. Parker, LawX director and president of SixFifty, and Marie Kulbeth, co-director of LawX and COO and general counsel at SixFifty, which will provide the technical support for the solution. A BYU Law grad and former assistant dean at the law school, Kulbeth has experience volunteering at the detention center in Dilley.
"LawX will look at asylum front to back, assessing everything from intervention points to alternatives, tapping insight from individuals and organizations that understand the issue, including Judge Dustin Pead, a U.S. Magistrate and former immigration judge, and Refugee Justice League founders Brad Parker and Jim McConkie," said Parker. "With such a daunting project as asylum, we are thrilled to collaborate with Wilson Sonsini, one of the best law firms in the world, to design this year's solution. We are confident that together we can do something very meaningful for a class of very vulnerable people." Parker adds that while previous LawX projects indicate a strong appetite for automated online solutions, the asylum solution may or may not do the same.
Launched in 2017, LawX uses design thinking to address the most pressing access to legal services issues. For more information about LawX, follow @LawXLab on Twitter or the LawX blog at https://lawxblog.wordpress.com/.
About BYU Law School
Founded in 1971, the J. Reuben Clark Law School (BYU Law) has grown into one of the nation's leading law schools – recognized for innovative research and teaching in social change, transactional design, entrepreneurship, corpus linguistics, criminal justice, and religious freedom. The Law School has more than 6,000 alumni serving in communities around the world. In its most recent rankings, SoFi ranked BYU Law as the #1 best-value U.S. law school in their 2017 Return on Education Law School Ranking. For more information, visit https://www.law.byu.edu/.
About Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
For more than 50 years, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has offered a broad range of services and legal disciplines focused on serving the principal challenges faced by the management and boards of directors of business enterprises. The firm is nationally recognized as a leader in the fields of corporate governance and finance, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, securities litigation, employment law, intellectual property, and antitrust, among many other areas of law. With deep roots in Silicon Valley, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has offices in Austin; Beijing; Boston; Brussels; Hong Kong; London; Los Angeles; New York; Palo Alto; San Diego; San Francisco; Seattle; Shanghai; Washington, D.C.; and Wilmington, DE. For more information, please visit www.wsgr.com.
Headquartered in the Silicon Slopes area of Utah, SixFifty is a subsidiary of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and combines the expertise of the world's leading technology law firm, made accessible through thoughtful technology. SixFifty streamlines complex areas of the law by providing actionable, efficient and affordable solutions for individuals and businesses. For more information, please visit www.sixfifty.com.