Contact: Pam Weisz, Pro Bono Net
Tina R. Sibbitt, Access to Justice Program, Administrative Office of the Courts
Phone: (505) 476-0509 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
New Mexico Courts Announce Interactive Forms Project
January 10, 2012 - Santa Fe, New Mexico - The New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts, the administrative arm of the Supreme Court, announced that it has signed an agreement with Pro Bono Net to use LawHelp Interactive™ to manage and host interactive forms that will allow people without access to an attorney to address civil legal issues on their own. The goal is to make it easier for anyone with access to a computer to complete forms that must be filed in court.
Every year, millions of Americans unable to afford an attorney face potentially devastating legal problems such as domestic violence, foreclosure, eviction, and child custody disputes. The volume of unmet legal needs in New Mexico by far exceeds available legal services. The 2010 Legal Services Corporation report, Documenting the Justice Gap in America, states that for every client accepted by a legal service provider, another eligible client is turned away for lack of resources to provide services.
The number of people without lawyers is spiking even further in these difficult economic times as job loss leads to foreclosures, evictions, bankruptcies, and the inability to pay child support. The people who are turned away cannot afford an attorney, and therefore turn to the courts with their legal issues, desperately requesting court staff to help them. Online document assembly allows those without a lawyer to quickly and accurately prepare critical legal forms via an easy-to-use online interface.
Utilizing a grant from the State Justice Institute, New Mexico will use LawHelp Interactive™ to create interactive basic civil and family law forms for legal areas such as landlord/tenant and divorce. In addition to allowing courts to host and manage online forms, LawHelp Interactive provides training and support on how to create user-friendly forms using software donated by HotDocs and A2J Author, and provides support to court staff and end users. LawHelp Interactive receives support from the Legal Services Corporation via its Technology Initiative Grants program.
New Mexico is among an increasing number of court systems around the country using LawHelp Interactive to increase and improve access to the courts. LawHelp Interactive™ is a program of Pro Bono Net, a nonprofit leader in innovative programs that increase access to justice. The service is now used in 26 states and was used to assemble more than 237,000 documents in the first 10 months of 2011.
About Pro Bono Net
Pro Bono Net is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing access to justice through innovative uses of technology and increased volunteer lawyer participation. Pro Bono Net uses innovative web-based platforms—www.probono.net, www.lawhelp.org and www.lawhelpinteractive.org —to recruit and support volunteer lawyers and provide direct information and tools for self representation to low-income communities. Pro Bono Net has also developed Pro Bono Manager, pro bono practice management software that helps AmLaw 200 law firms increase pro bono participation, manage pro bono caseloads more efficiently and raise internal and external awareness of pro bono efforts. For more information, please visit www.probono.net