Student Spotlight: Jessie Pringle hopes to increase access to justice

Through a legal tech fellowship at Kansas Legal Services, Jessie Pringle spent the summer learning how technology can help close the justice gap.

“I am empowering people to navigate the justice system when they can’t afford an attorney or there aren’t enough resources for us to represent them directly,” Pringle said. “Frankly, there’s not enough resources at any legal aid organization to help everyone who applies. My job is to increase the number of people who are receiving help to resolve their legal problems.”

Pringle researches and develops legal answers for projects, researches and develops video content, assists with video production and field testing, researches legal issues, provides assistance to website users, participates in stakeholder meetings for projects and updates online legal forms.

Through her fellowship, Pringle has the opportunity to work closely Marilyn Harp, L’79, executive director of Kansas Legal Services.

“She’s a great role model,” Pringle said. “I’ve learned a lot about leadership and the legal field by working for her.”

Jessie Pringle did a fellowship at Kansas Legal Services this summer under the supervision of Research and Development Specialist Melissa Nolte (left) and Executive Director Marilyn Harp (right).

Pringle enjoys knowing the projects she is working on now will have long-lasting benefit because people will continue to use them after her fellowship ends.

“We’re seeing thousands of people use the KLS website and access legal forms,” she said. “The volume of people accessing and using what I am working on is rewarding. Making more resources available for self-representing parties is helpful for the entire legal community; it increases judicial efficiency as litigants know what they’re doing.”

Pringle said her fellowship is different from a traditional legal internship because she oscillates between legal and administrative duties.

“It requires so many more skills beyond what are taught in a traditional legal education,” she said. “While I don’t need to know how to code or anything, I do need to be quick and flexible in approaching technology projects as well as gathering and evaluating data that will help identify what clients need when using the resources.”

By the end of her fellowship, Pringle hopes to have learned as much as possible about working on tech projects and then use that knowledge to improve the community.

“I hope to help spread awareness of the impact of using technology to close the justice gap,” she said. “Any attorney can help with that.”

A Chanute native, Pringle earned her undergraduate degree in history from the University of Kansas, where she served as student body president. At KU Law, Pringle is a member of Women in Law and a student ambassador for the Office of Admissions.

When Jessie Pringle graduates from KU Law in May 2019, she will be following in her father’s footsteps. She will graduate from 29 years after her father, R. Kent Pringle, did.

“My father is a KU Law Grad, and I grew up loving KU Law,” she said. “I wanted to follow in his footsteps and pursue a J.D.”

Pringle plans to use her law degree to pursue a career in civil legal aid.

“I also want to be involved with policies that address and help those in poverty,” Pringle said. “My interests include public benefits, elder issues, housing, public health impacts and domestic violence. So many of the legal issues that legal aid clients face exist because of bad policy. I want to help find ways to improve policy for better life outcomes.”

— By Ashley Hocking

This post is the sixth in a series highlighting the diverse internships and jobs KU Law students and recent graduates are engaged in over the summer and early in their careers. Check out earlier posts from this series about Omar HusainJames HamptonMalika BakerLindsay Strong and Arturo Garcia. 

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