Advocates Current Projects Triage and Diagnosis

Online Intake systems

Online intake is an always-on service, that lets anyone with an internet connection enter their information and find what services they might qualify for. The advantage of an online intake system is that it prevents the need for a person from having to figure out how to connect to an intake service during business hours, or having to go through costly and confusing voice calls.

One example of an online intake system comes from Western Ohio — with a project funded by LSC-TIG.

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Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO) became the first program in the country to create an A2J online intake application module. The LAWO system enables Ohioans to request legal assistance 24/7, and data integrates directly with the program’s Pika case management system. LAWO determined that online intake applications saved approximately 10 – 15 minutes of staff time per application acceptance. That amounts to a savings of about 1.0 – 1.5 intake staff FTE’s per year, allowing resources to be allocated more effectively in the program.

Additionally, by offering a platform where applicants can utilize a smart system to be guided through the steps of inputting all the necessary issue and eligibility information, increased efficiency is realized through a decrease in the number of times an applicant must be re-contacted to complete the application process.

Single statewide online intake

Even better than a single organization doing intake online, is for a coordinated set of groups to use hte same intake point to route people to the right service-provider and support.

A Statewide centralized intake system, in which users can contact one phone number or site, and after they enter their information there, then the site is smart enough to know whether and how to refer them to the appropriate and local service. The advantage of this centralized intake system is that it is a big wide open door or lay people, giving them a clear path to find help, and relieving them of having to call a wide number of services and go through a very painful scouting process to try to find the right contact point.

An example of this comes from the Northwest Justice Project, again supported by LSC-TIG.

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Northwest Justice Project (NJP) has been operating a toll-free intake and referral hotline (CLEAR – Coordinated Legal Education Advice and Referral) since 1996 and handles more than 20,000 calls per year. CLEAR serves as the statewide, centralized point of access for Washington State’s low-income population seeking free legal help. Due to the high volume of calls on CLEAR, NJP recognized the need for an alternative to telephone applications and developed its online intake system with an A2J interface and triage tool. The system enhances clients’ access to services and improves the assistance NJP provides clients on high priority eviction and benefits cases. An e-transfer module moves data from the online interview into LegalServer, NJP’s case management system, thereby increasing the efficiency of the intake process. The result has been a reduction in the numbers of ineligible applicants calling for assistance, and 86% of the screeners reported faster intake screenings.


Online intake integrated with case management

One relatively new access innovation is an online intake system that integrates directly into a case management system for a legal clinic. With this type of software, a user can enter their personal and case information once, and then it populates the organization’s database about the person, relieving the person or the staff from duplicating this entry.

One example of this type of integrated Online Intake – Case Management platform is from Utah, as funded by LSC-TIG.
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Utah designed an A2J online intake application that is directly integrated with its Kemps case management system. The online intake system enables prospective clients to apply for services 24/7 and includes the option of live web chat assistance. The system also allows staff to directly import intake data from the online application into the Kemps database — turning a data entry process into a more efficient data review task.
Staff can conduct multiple online chats simultaneously and give clients immediate responses, many of them based on prepared answers to frequently asked questions. ULS has also customized the online intake system to address the particular needs of hearing impaired individuals. The result has been a far more efficient and higher quality intake procedure that saves staff time and yields enhanced results and services to clients. Of the 78 users surveyed, 96% said they found the system easy to use and 98% said they would recommend it to others.

ULS later expanded its online intake project through TIG 12005 by creating a Spanish version of the A2J online intake system. The new system enables Spanish speaking applicants to apply 24/7, effectively screens out ineligible applicants, and imports data directly into the case management system for increased efficiency.


The need for tech to amplify access to justice at scale


A drawing by Margaret Hagan of CALI nonprofit tech director John Mayer, about the importance of serving court users with better, innovative technology. He was highlighting CALI’s tool of A2J Author for DIY legal screeners and form-completion.


Redesigning Court Experiences for people without lawyers

The Chicago-Kent School of Law and IIT completed a massive study of how to build better tools for self-represented litigants (pro-se). Their 470+ page write up includes a variety of concept designs and prototypes for each of 5 stages of the pro se process. IN the past decade since the study was released, a few projects have tried to take advantage of the study’s insights (see: A2J Authoring tools and related apps).

Inside the write-up, there are many concepts waiting to be prototyped and tested. The above map captures the main flows the study envisions.

A great starting point…