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Free law students to build your A2J Guided Interview!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

  • Organization: Center for Access to Justice & Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law, IIT
  • Source: Pro Bono Net Programs

Chicago-Kent College of Law (Professor Ron Staudt, Jessica Bolack, and Andrew Medeiros) offers to its students a clinical hybrid course called: Justice & Technology Practicum.  The course is designed to teach students how to build A2J Guided Interviews and HotDocs templates for use by legal aid organizations on their statewide websites. When we offered this course in 2010 and 2011, we partnered with Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO), North Penn Legal Services, Idaho Legal Services, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, the Minnesota Fourth Judicial District, and Minnesota Legal Services Coalition. Our students built over twenty reasonably sophisticated applications for self -represented people.  These projects were proposed by the legal aid organizations and reviewed periodically during the semester for suitability and fit. 

This year we are looking to further expand the course and we invite the legal aid document assembly community to propose projects that our  students can build in the fall semester 2012--beginning in September and finishing in November.  Some projects may continue into the spring as students may take a follow-on Practicum in the spring semester to complete more complicated work on their projects. 

We are looking for six  discrete projects.   The projects can be clustered; for example, in past years we did several different forms for Illinois guardianship.   Students learn to cooperate on the research and to work together to avoid burdening domain experts when the forms that they automate are in a single area.

We follow a very careful process in building document assembly templates and A2J Guided Interviews. Here is the set of instructions for our student developers:

Before jumping into creating your HotDocs template and A2J Guided Interview you should research the area of law and plan out the flow of your guided interview. Follow the steps below:

1.       Project Scope: The scope document is the initial planning document that underlies the creation process. The purpose of the document is to attempt to initially define the bounds of the project and to get an idea of the size of the project. The scope document also helps to identify potential areas needing investigation or further research.

2.       Research Memo: Research the area of law and court processes involved with the selected court form or letter. Draft a memo explaining the law, procedure, requirements, and other possibly undocumented information that might be helpful to a pro-se litigant using this form or letter.

3.       Storyboard: Create a graphical or flowchart representation of the information collection process. Determine the best way to collect the information, both functionally and for the user, and start to lay out the information collection to guide their development.

4.       A2J Author & HotDocs Development: Using the storyboard as a reference, write the HotDocs template and A2J Guided Interview. Each step of the Guided Interview should be designed to be easy for end-users to complete and provide any additional information deemed necessary. Sound files are also created and attached during this portion of development, clearly stating the text listed on each pane of the interview.

5.       HotDocs and A2J Guided Interview Review and Edit

6.       Final Report

We are eager to encourage law schools across the country to offer courses like this.  We are working to refine the teaching model, build an electronic course kit and share our experiences with other law schools. 

Here is a form you can use to request that our fall student team work on a project for you:  We do not know how many of you will respond and our resources are now limited but let’s get started.  For now we are soliciting proposals from LSC funded programs and courts only.

Ron Staudt, Jessica Bolack, and Andrew Medeiros


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