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Introduction to Document Assembly for Legal Services Marc Lauritsen Capstone Practice Systems October 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Introduction to Document Assembly for Legal Services Marc Lauritsen Capstone Practice Systems October 2011."— Presentation transcript:


2 Introduction to Document Assembly for Legal Services Marc Lauritsen Capstone Practice Systems October 2011

3 Quick review: Document Assembly Sometimes called...  “Document automation”  “Computer-aided drafting” Think TurboTax Typically found in...  Word processing applications  Case management systems  Fillable forms

4 Basic Concepts Templates – model documents Variables – what’s different?  Facts, choices  Calculations - numbers, dates, texts “Logic” – what goes where?  Conditional/optional pieces  Repeated sections Interface - questions and guidance

5 Template + Answers = Document

6 Important differences Templates | Answers | Documents Interview | Assembly RTF templates | PDF templates Desktop HotDocs | Online HotDocs

7 Benefits Effectiveness  Doing good work with less effort Quality  Correctness  Completeness  Consistency Responsiveness Training and continuing education Consolidation of expertise Process improvement Job satisfaction and enrichment

8 Uses Document focus  Word processable documents  Graphical forms, PDFs  Personalized instructions Interview focus  Dynamic questionnaires  Intelligent checklists  Analytical advisors  Eligibility assessment  Hotline scripts for call center staff

9 Users Self-helpers (unrepresented) Clients (partially or fully represented) Legal services staff advocates Hotline staff Volunteers, pro bono counsel Law school clinics Other nonprofits

10 Alternate front ends Native HotDocs – “out of the box” A2J

11 Online interviews


13 The content spectrum Static (brochure-ware)  Nothing changes Interactive, navigable (hypertext)  Locations or views change Dynamic, intelligent, productive  Content changes LHI

14 About Illinois Legal Aid Online’s Automated Documents Project  Goals  Create a core library of automated documents for legal aid and pro bono attorneys  Provide pro se litigants and others with means to create correct, complete, and neat forms and letters appropriate to address their legal needs

15 Where are the Automated Documents? Automated documents for use by attorneys representing clients are available through both and Users must register for an ILAO account in order to access the automated documents Users must register separately on LawHelp Interactive to save answer files for re-use. Automated documents for use by the public are on

16 The Automated Documents Menu

17 In Topical “Pro Bono Guide Me”

18 Find Automated Documents by Searching

19 Finding Automated Documents on the Public Website Automated documents are not searchable on the public website We have created a “form library” screen where Self-Help Center navigators and others assisting pro se litigants can find all public automated documents

20 Form Library

21 Within Topical “Guide Me”

22 What Programs Does ILAO Have Online for Advocates?  Divorce  Adoption  Lockout Case Letters and Pleadings  Motion to Stay Eviction  Powers of Attorney and Advanced Directives  Civil Motions  Simple Will  Discovery Packet  Vehicle Deficiency Suit Defense  Hospital Bill Defense  Immigration

23 What Programs Does ILAO Have for Pro Se Litigants? Forms, Letters and Pleadings for:  Fee Waiver/ 298 Petition  Divorce  Name Change  Order of Protection (for most counties)  Expungement and Sealing  Mortgage Foreclosure Answer  Powers of Attorney for Health Care and Property  Security Deposit Complaint and Demand Letters  Letters Credit Card Cos., Banks, Insurance Cos., Credit Reporting Agencies to Report Identity Theft …and many more on

24 How Are Illinois Attorneys Using Automated Documents? Traditional Client Services Pro Bono Projects Unbundled Services for Pro Se Litigants

25 Center for Disability and Elder Law Thomas Wendt, Chief Legal Officer Uses automated documents for:  Divorce, since 2009  Powers of Attorney and Advanced Directives, since working with ILAO on edits to accommodate new law in 2011  Wills, also since working with ILAO in 2011 Serves individual clients in office, considering automated documents for clinics also. Reasons for using automated documents:  Professional and consistent documents  Efficient delivery of services

26 Prairie State Legal Services Sandy Crow, Volunteer Lawyer Coordinator, Peoria Office Used automated documents with volunteer lawyers in clinical setting for:  Uncontested Divorce, since October 2010 (see handout)  Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives, since July, 2011 Reasons for using automated documents:  Allows non-expert pro bono attorneys to provide effective services  Standardized documents for pro bono attorneys  Resources already posted on ILAO, no need to re- create and distribute materials for each clinic.

27 How Can Your Program Participate in this Project? Substantive Expertise  Assist in developing appropriate interviews and process flow  Constructive feedback on how to improve current automated documents Ideas for new projects  Let us know where you see a need  Think about automated documents when planning new projects

28 Thank You! For further information, contact: Mary K. Neal Automated Documents Project Manager 312-977-9047 x18

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