Introductory Materials

1 Introduction

Lawyers need new skills and core competencies to succeed in today’s technology-driven legal practice. Document assembly and automation tools are crucial to providing quality, economical legal services in this environment. Legal educators must ensure that new attorneys are familiar with the tools and professional techniques that are becoming standard in the modern law office. These same law office automation tools can provide self-guided instructions and forms to help low income, self-represented people achieve access to justice.

The Access to Justice Clinical Course Project (A2J Clinical Project) is a coordinated effort between the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI), the Center for Access to Justice and Technology (CAJT) at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, and Idaho Legal Aid Services. We hope that this course kit will jump start the growth of future A2J Clinics and simultaneously deliver new automated content to legal aid providers across the country.

The mission of an A2J Clinic is two-fold: to introduce law students to the skills required by a 21st century law office and to produce A2J Guided Interviews® and other technical resources that statewide legal aid organizations can use to lower the barriers to justice for low income people. This course kit, developed with the participants below, was designed to allow more law schools to easily adapt and adopt these course models to replicate the success of this project.

Participants include:

    • Conrad Johnson, Brian Donnelly, and Mary Marsh Zulack, Columbia Law School
    • Judith Welch Wegner, University of North Carolina School of Law
    • Joseph Rosenberg, City University of New York School of Law
    • JoNel Newman and Melissa Swain, University of Miami School of Law
    • Jane Aiken, Tanina Rostain, and Roger Skalbeck, Georgetown University Law Center
    • Sunrise Ayers, Greg Sergienko, and Jodi Nafzger, Concordia University School of Law

 

What is A2J Author®?

A2J Author is a software tool that delivers great access to justice for self-represented litigants by allowing non-technical authors, lawyers, or law students to build customer friendly web-based interfaces for document assembly. The A2J Guided Interviews® created with A2J Author remove many of the barriers faced by self-represented litigants, allowing them to complete court documents that are ready to be filed with the court system. In addition to being user friendly for the consumer, A2J Author is also designed to make it easy (and perhaps fun) for court staff, students, and public interest attorneys to create A2J Guided Interviews with little technical assistance or training.

A2J Author was developed under grants from the State Justice Institute (SJI), the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, and the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI). Since 2005, over 2.6 million A2J Guided Interviews have been used by pro-se litigants and over 1.5 million documents have been assembled.

How Much Technical Experience is Required to Teach an A2J Clinic?

No prior experience with A2J Author or any other document assembly tool is required. All of our participating faculty can be trained in the software tools before the class begins. Teaching assistance is available through webinars with CAJT. There are also training videos available for A2J Author and HotDocs that were created by the CAJT team. Those training resources can be found in the Training Materials section below.


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