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Document Assembly

There are many HotDocs and A2J document assembly projects that have been funded by TIG that have replication potential. Listed below is a brief synopsis of a couple of those projects.

Issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP) helps ensure that contracts are awarded competitively and that grantees obtain best value for the services and/or equipment they require. A Sample Document Assembly RFP can be utilized by programs seeking vendors for document assembly initiatives. Sections of this document may also apply to a broader range of technology projects.

Legal Aid of Nebraska partnered with the Nebraska Supreme Court Pro Se Implementation Committee to increase access to justice through the creation of innovative, effective and efficient automated legal pleadings. The primary goal of this project was to create guided interviews and court form templates to improve low income Nebraskans' access to the court system. To accomplish this goal, the objective was to take existing “court-authorized” form pleadings and automate them using the HotDocs software. Then, the project team would apply the Access to Justice Author (A2J Author) interface and guided interviews to ensure that the forms completion process was interactive and easy for the user. Finally, the forms would be stored on the Law Help Interactive (LHI) server and links to the forms would appear on the Virtual Self Help Center section of the Nebraska statewide website.

Leveraging a modest TIG investment ($29,100), the project team produced a very impressive list of forms for low-income Nebraskans.

Final Report:

Legal Aid Society Inc. (Louisville, KY) partnered with Jefferson County Family Court to develop a pro se divorce packet for Divorce With Children and for Divorce Without Children and to promote the establishment of statewide uniform forms through the development of document assembly products. LAS created the Kentucky Online Self‐Help Assistant (KOSHA) to provide low‐income Kentuckians the forms needed to easily, accurately, and effectively produce pro se pleadings and increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the courts. They also translated the Divorce Without Children module into Spanish and added forms for small claims and criminal record expungement. They began this project in Jefferson County and worked to expand it to 10 additional jurisdictions, since each of Kentucky’s 57 judicial districts had adopted local rules on what needed to be filed to obtain court review. As the forms became accepted by more jurisdictions, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Kentucky made the Jefferson County divorce forms (With‐ and Without‐ Children) the statewide standardized form packet for self‐represented litigants in Kentucky.

Final Report:

Arkansas’ Automated Document Project developed a substantial automated document catalogue for pro se users (8 packets with 30 court forms) and for advocate users (23 automated documents). To encourage use of the forms, 75 staff and pro bono advocates were trained on using the templates and 550 staff of the court and law libraries were trained in the use of the forms and how to help clients use the forms. This resulted in the completion of over 3,000 forms in the year following the development of the automated documents. This project has broadened the impact of the statewide website for low‐income Arkansans and created a closer relationship between legal services and the Arkansas Administration Office of the Courts.

Final Report:

Idaho Legal Aid Services (ILAS) partnered with the Idaho Supreme Court to enhance the Interactive Court Form library on their statewide website using HotDocs and an A2J Author interface that has allowed them to reach a larger number of pro se clients in Idaho while making the legal process far less complex for them. The project utilized Idaho Supreme Court approved forms that covered a broad range of legal areas including domestic violence protection orders, divorce with children and custody complaint. They conducted in‐person outreach and training with approximately 400 staff of organizations ranging from public libraries and the Courts Assistance Officers to shelters and other advocacy programs about the availability and use of the automated forms as well as how to help clients use the interactive forms. This project has also fostered a closer relationship between ILAS, the Idaho State Courts, and Idaho Supreme Court’s Court Assistance Office (CAO).

Final Report: