Current Projects Procedural Guide

Mobile legal help apps

Mobile legal help apps are becoming increasingly common. In these apps, often developed as standalone applications for Android or iOS systems, the user gets a wide range of legal help information specifically geared for self-represented litigants all on their phone.

The advantage of these apps is that once they’re downloaded you don’t need a web connection to access the materials. Also, they become a more reliable companion for those people who are going through a legal process, rather than a website that you need to re-find and re-navigate, the app is a more permanent and friendly way to access the information.

An app can help you bookmark materials, supply you with the right contact and location information about where to get to where you want to go, and potentially let you scan and save materials for your own case.

The mobile app is more specifically designed to be a companion for a self-represented litigant, as compared to a website that is a static source of information.

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Some examples of mobile self-help apps are one from Illinois, the Illinois Legal Aid App.


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Pine Tree Legal Assistance and its partner, Illinois Legal Aid Online, developed some of the first mobile apps in legal services. Illinois Legal Aid Online launched the Illinois Legal Aid app and the Illinois Pro Bono app, and PTLA launched the Legal Aid News App, available on Android and Apple iOS. PTLA also developed mobile web applications as part of TIG 10015 — the Legal Aid Finder App and the HelpMELaw app for Maine specific legal information are viewable across smartphone platforms, available on Android and as web apps.

The Illinois Legal Aid app is designed for lower-income residents who need legal assistance and offers plain- language legal information and Illinois-specific referrals to courthouse legal self-help centers and legal aid agencies.

The Pro Bono app provides legal professionals with a volunteer opportunity search tool, a calendar of upcoming legal events, including [CLEs], and comprehensive legal resource guides in the most common areas of pro bono practice. Prior to TIG 10015, PTLA piloted the development of its mobile web statewide website and created a national guide on website development (TIG 08005).

The Final Report from LSC-TIG: TIG 10015: PTLA-Illinois Mobile Project

Maryland also has a Self-Help legal app from the courts. It is available on Android, on Google Play.

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The Maryland Law Help app brings together tools and resources developed by the Maryland Judiciary and others to help Marylanders use the courts or find legal help. Lean about Maryland law, find a lawyer or mediator, watch videos on how to use the courts, and even call or chat with an attorney at the Self-Help Center.

In this app you can find:

Find a Court, Find a Lawyer, Find a Form, Find a Law Library, Court Help, People’s Law Library, Self-Help Center, Videos, Tip Sheets, Mediation, Maryland Laws, Law Help Chat, Law Help Call, Interpreter, Special Needs, About Us


What if we redesigned legal systems for the end user?

Legal Design - what would a child welfare system designed for the child look like
A quick talking head sketch of a ‘What-If’ for legal design. What if we started over with our legal systems? Instead of patching over the problems with better interfaces — we imagine what a user-centered legal system would look like from the ground up. This sketch came from a Children Right’s Summit held yesterday at Google’s headquarters, sponsored by the law firm Baker & MacKenzie, that brought together lots of legal & social service providers, together with counsel from a variety of tech companies.

The other insight in this sketch is that legal professionals need outsiders to come in & see where the opportunities lie for redesign. Because the systems are currently so professional-focused, doing more to serve the bureaucracy that currently exists or the status quo practices of the people working in the system — an outside perspective is needed to break open new spaces for innovation.

Ideabook Work Product Tool

Access to Justice Tech: Concepts

Open Law Lab - Access to Justice tech

I’ve been searching around for the current landscape of actual initiatives & concept designs for tech tools to provide more access to justice.

I went back to a presentation, Assisted Legal Decisionmaking, by law professor Josh Blackman at Stanford last year. He showed some screenshots of legal products he’s been thinking of.

Open Law Lab - Access to Justice app 2

The concept app would allow the user to input their question. The app would respond with follow-up questions to nail the issue down more concretely. And then it would direct the user to the right resources. It follows the Expert System model, with guided interviews, that the A2J author and other access tech has relied upon.

Open Law Lab - Access to Justice app