Programmer-turned-lawyer uses his computer skills to help disadvantaged clients

Legal Technology

Michael Hollander/David Fonda Photography.

Philadelphia employment lawyer Michael Hollander is using skills from his past life as a computer programmer to help automate processes in his job helping disadvantaged clients for Community Legal Services.

Hollander first tapped his skills to help clients while working in a legal clinic in law school at the University of Virginia, Philly.com reports. He used mapping software to help farm workers figure out how much they should be paid for travel time between farms.

Hollander’s initial technology project as a legal services lawyer was a technology program that automated expungement petitions. The “Expungement Generator” software is owned by CLS, but many groups in Philadelphia are using it. Holland estimates that the generator has processed 35,000 cases since 2012.

The program pulls the client’s criminal record, scans it to see if the offenses qualify for expungement under Pennsylvania law, and generates a petition for each offense.

Since then, Hollander learned new software and developed it to analyze unemployment insurance data to advocate for policy changes. And he worked with a small group of lawyers with technology expertise to develop other programs to help clients. The lawyer group is aided by a nonprofit group from the University of Pennsylvania called Hack4Impact.

One program developed by the lawyer group uses cellphone location services to determine when and where employees are working. Another integrates the Expungement Generator with the intake system at Community Legal Services.



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