Document Automation Empowers Access to Justice
The justice system is meant to provide citizens with access to legal protection, but issues such as high costs and inefficiencies deny them real assistance. Every day, many in our country face the possibility of losing their family, home or means of making a living due to their inability to afford or obtain legal help.
According to the Justice Needs and Satisfaction in the United States of America 2021 report, 66% of people experienced legal issues in the last four years, with only 49% of these cases being fully resolved.
The Justice Index found that in 28 states and territories, there is only one civil legal aid attorney for every 10,000 people below 200% of the federal poverty level. With approximately 10,000 civil legal aid attorneys for over 87.9 million people below the poverty level, access to justice is severely limited for many individuals.
This is where LawHelp Interactive, a service of Pro Bono Net comes in. Pro Bono Net, a nonprofit leader in increasing access to justice, is transforming the way legal help reaches the underserved through innovative technology and collaboration.
Pro Bono Net’s LHI website provides free, complete, safe and reliable online forms to help low-income individuals, pro bono lawyers and nonprofit organizations complete necessary legal documents. The LHI site aims to empower individuals to protect their rights, livelihoods and general welfare, primarily in cases involving child support and custody, divorce, domestic violence, debt collection, foreclosures and evictions.
HotDocs Powers Affordable Legal Assistance
In partnership with HotDocs by CARET, PBN manages the LHI site and licenses HotDocs to support legal professionals across the country. HotDocs automation software is crucial to pro bono legal assistance as it streamlines the process of creating legal documents, making it faster and more efficient for lawyers to provide legal services to clients in need. HotDocs supplies lawyers with pre-designed templates that can be customized to fit the needs of each client. Automatic creation of legal documents such as contracts, agreements and other legal forms allows lawyers to complete tasks in a shorter amount of time with greater accuracy—a highly valuable benefit to any legal office.
In addition to saving time, HotDocs software can also help to reduce errors and ensure that all necessary legal language and clauses are included in each document. This can be especially important in pro bono legal assistance, where mistakes can have significant consequences for clients who may have limited resources to pursue legal action if something goes wrong.
Easy-to-Use Interview Process
Users complete guided interviews on the LHI website, which then combine with their corresponding HotDocs templates to generate interactive legal documents or court forms. LawHelp.org provides access to public law information and guided interviews through LHI, with each state and territory having its own statewide legal information website.
LHI has actively supported over a million free sessions and created over 825,000 document packages in 2022, with over 2,500 people using the platform daily. The LHI site provides access to more than 5,000 interview templates, a lending library of content and a software commons for developers to create and maintain forms that comply with state and local laws.
Read the Pro Bono Net Success Story
Helping Legal Aid and Pro Bono Attorneys Across the US
LHI also assists legal professionals in managing their case files and editing completed forms. It is used by legal organizations in over 40 states and helps those without lawyers save time in creating court forms and legal documents. Nonprofit legal aid programs and courts can also learn from LHI how to develop interactive forms. LHI users have access to training, technical support and a community of form developers and access-to-justice stakeholders.
Growing Legal Help Services with Pro Bono Net
Pro Bono Net assumed management of LHI back in 2005. At the time, it was the first initiative in the country designed to help nonprofit legal aid organizations and their clients quickly and easily fill out critical legal forms online. Pro Bono Net has taken the lead in expanding the LawHelp Interactive program with assistance from the Legal Services Corporation and the Ohio State Legal Services Association.
Today, LHI is a thriving national initiative that provides legal services and court access to justice programs to impoverished communities across over 40 states.
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