Pine Tree legal assistance

Location: Bangor, Maine


About: Pine Tree Legal Assistance (PTLA) mission is to ensure that state and federal laws affecting poor people are upheld, while also addressing the systemic barriers to justice faced by Mainers with low incomes. To achieve our mission, we provide free civil legal assistance in cases where it can make a difference in one’s ability to meet one’s basic human needs or in enforcing one’s basic human rights, including access to housing, food, income, safety, education, and healthcare.

Fellowship Overview

Pine Tree Legal Assistance seeks a full-time, 10-week legal aid technology Fellow to work in collaboration with PTLA staff in preparing for, researching, training, and implementing a natural language processing AI into the legal triage tool on our website, PTLA.org. This Fellowship will be located in Pine Tree's Bangor office, where the supervising attorney, Jack Haycock, is based. This position comes with a stipend of $5000, which will be taxable income. A Fellow will work between 300 - 400 hours,and can expect a typical workweek of 37.5 hours. Ideally, this Fellowship will be completed between late May/early June and mid-August.

Fellows Duties

The Fellow will work closely with PTLA's Client Focused Technology Innovator, Jack Haycock, and in collaboration with other PTLA staff and contractors in order to prepare for, design, train, and implement a natural language processing AI into PTLA.org's legal triage tool.

Specific examples of Fellow duties:

  • Researching different AI solutions and their affordability, security, ease of use, ease of integration with Drupal websites, and other specific instances of legal or other sectors incorporating similar technology;

  • Sorting, categorizing, and tagging an extensive collection of user data for use in AI training in collaboration with PTLA staff;

  • Testing PTLA triage tool generally, and with AI integration for accuracy and user experience improvements;

This project is massive – and while it may seem that much of the work to be done is data-crunching, there are many opportunities for learning and developing skills that will be transferable and helpful in other legal aid technology work. Over the summer, the Fellow will:

  • Author and edit content on PTLA.org – a Drupal 7 website;

  • Manage and edit PTLA's extensive triage logic tree, built as a custom Drupal module;

  • Research, discuss, and develop strategies with PTLA staff for ensuring users are informed about the use of their data and are 'opting in' to using our AI tool, rather than being forced to opt out;

  • Gain a familiarity with the applications of natural language processing AI in a legal context

Competencies Include

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills

  • Excellent legal research skills

  • Strong knowledge of web-based legal information and intake systems

  • Familiarity with the legal needs of low-income Mainers, and a strong commitment to working on veterans issues

  • Ability to work effectively with our clients and partner agencies

  • Strong independent work skills

  • Ability to work in a high-volume, fast-paced environment