By Alexander Rabanal, Access to Justice Fellow at Chicago-Kent’s Center for Access to Justice & Technology
This fall marks the fifth year of Professor Ronald Staudt’s Justice & Technology Practicum, a groundbreaking course at IIT Chicago-Kent that teaches students how to create A2J Guided Interviews® and document assembly templates for use by self-represented litigants. A2J Guided Interviews are graphical interfaces that walk a person through a legal process and can also be used to generate a completed legal form. Since 2005, over 2.6 million A2J Guided Interviews have been run, producing over 1.5 million documents. With legal aid organizations typically burdened by limited resources and funding, Professor Staudt’s students make a critical contribution to closing the justice gap by creating powerful online self-help tools that scale up the delivery of legal assistance to those who cannot afford a private attorney or who are ineligible for legal aid.
The Practicum is a hybrid classroom and clinical course. Students receive classroom instruction on the uses of technology to meet the legal needs of the poor and engage in lively discussions about the increasing role technology plays in both legal services delivery and private practice. Students are then paired with a legal aid attorney to address a justice problem and conduct critical legal research and fieldwork as the foundation for developing an interactive A2J Guided Interview and document assembly template for a legal aid organization. Over the past five years, Professor Staudt’s students have created interactive tools for legal aid organizations across the country, from California to North Carolina. Among other fieldwork activities, students may volunteer at the Self-Help Web Center at the Daley Center, where they help pro se litigants use A2J Guided Interviews and online legal self-help resources, such as those found on Illinois Legal Aid Online.