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LawHelp Interactive Resource Center

Does your organization want to use online document assembly to make filling out forms and drafting documents faster and easier? The information below will help you get started.

What Is Document Assembly?

Very simply, document assembly software drafts documents based on how a person answers a set of questions. Usually, the answers can be saved, so they can be reused to complete related forms and documents. One well-known example of document assembly software is TurboTax, a commercial package that helps complete tax forms.

Several excellent articles on document assembly are available online:

Learn More About LawHelp Interactive

LawHelp Interactive is the largest and most used online form platform in the US. In 2021 partners in 45 States created online forms hosted by LHI. Our form collections span from Guam to Puerto Rico. Over 1 million documents packages were created in 2021. LHI is a national initiative that helps poverty law (legal aid, pro bono projects, and allies)  and court access-to-justice programs implement online document assembly projects. It is a project of Pro Bono Net, a nonprofit committed to increasing access to justice with technology, in cooperation with Ohio State Legal Services Association and is supported by the Legal Services Corporation, and state courts in California, New York, and Washington DC, as well as by the Office of Civil Legal Aid in Washington State.

 

We offer fee Starter subscription packages for projects that are starting projects and learning how to maximize the use of their forms to support remote user work flows and improve access through free online forms. Paid subscription plans are offered for those who already have existing well utilized collections or are creating collections that will reach higher utilization goals. Paid subscriptions include support to plan, evaluate, and trouble shoot issues with forms. Those on starter plans are encourages to subscribe to deeply disocunted support hours, so they benefit from our technical expertize with new forms, as they are tested and end users report questions.

 

Principles of LawHelp Interactive:

1. We prioritize security and privacy.

2. We believe all users need support. This includes partners and end users using your forms.

3. We amplify your voice so you can empower others. LHI is a ready to go technical platform and training engine, but also a broad network that give you acces to visionaries at PBN, the online form community, and legal non profit, and poverty law experts. We will amplify your voice and impact through communications, social media, and help you join a community of doers, thinkers, and innovators. 

 

Benefits of LHI:

1. LHI is already built to scale. There are no delays in standing up a new technical infrastrucure. 

2. Ongoing updates. LHI routine does code pushes, enhancements and monitors security and the system itself. Enhancements are based on partner and community feedback. 

3. End users, self represented litigants that use your forms can edit, print, and email their forms for free as many times as they need. There are no limits or caps or fees in using the online forms.

4. Free training for your teams both technical and best practices.

5. Robust Resource Library, and recorded trainings available on demand. 

6. Account management is handled by LHI. We have long standing data retention polices for different types of account. Clear data management protocols help us protect those who trust us with their information.

7. End user feedback and support. We provide end user support and respond to end user feedback as a matter of routine. We use end user feedback to improve LHI and to help you improve your forms and instructions.

8. Data and reports. We publish reports and give you access to reports to help you manage your form collections and relationships. Those who subscribe to different plans get access to custom reports. We also provide access to back end error logs to those who host forms in LHI. 

Software:

Participating programs use HotDocs Corporation's HotDocs software, and optionally the Center for Access to Justice and Technology's A2J Author, to create document assembly content from their forms and documents. Templates are uploaded to the LawHelp Interactive and made available to advocates, pro bono volunteers, and self-represented litigants through legal aid and court websites. If you want us to consider addding a new form software product to LHI please reach out to Claudia Johnson cjohnson@probono.net. 

To learn more about LawHelp Interactive, check out

If you are wondering what other programs are creating with document assembly, here are a few examples:

In addition to overseeing the technical infrastructure necessary to offer online document assembly content, Pro Bono Net also offers local partners assistance with collaboration building, content development, outreach, and evaluation. PBN can help you create your forms, and also you can access additional capacities and integrations through advanced features in LHI. Those include integrations to legal aid, non profit databases, Legal Server and SalesForce, guide users of forms on "next steps" after they complete an interview, state of the art E-filing (ECF 4 compliant), as well as use chat bots or chats to guide end users through an intervew in LHI. Contact Claudia Johnson, LHI Program Manager, for help at cjohnson@probono.net.

Connect with the Community

Community is central to the LawHelp Interactive program. People who work on local projects often come together to share experiences and lessons learned about content development, project management, coordination and partnership building, outreach, and evaluation. Connecting with this community is easy: join an e-mail list or attend the community calls or trainings.

  • Document Assembly Developers List. This e-mail list is for people who are working with HotDocs and A2J Author. Members receive about 80 messages a month.
  • LawHelp Interactive Announcement E-mail List. This e-mail list is for people who are interested in announcements about the community but do not want all of the technical information about HotDocs and A2J Author that is sent to the Document Assembly Developers List. Members receive about 10 messages a month. Note: Every message that goes to this list also is sent to the Document Assembly Developers List.
  • Community Calls. We do 4 calls per year to increase the capacity of our partners in creating state of the arts forms and integrations.These calls are typically on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 2:00 pm Eastern. To find out when the next Community Call is, ljoin our email lists to get the announcements of dates and topics.
  • Trainings.With funding from LSC, OSLSA and Pro Bono Net sponsor one online training each year on how to use HotDocs, LawHelp Interactive and A2J Author. In addition, we offer one National Webinar on a technical topic for advanced project managers and/or developers. You can find information about developer trainings via the Training link above.

Start Your Project

As you work on your project, use the resources on the DA Support Site to help it run smoothly. Community members have posted these resources to help you, and you are also encouraged to post materials.

A few items to point out:

  • Module 7: Deploying Automated Forms for Access. These slides and comprehensive speakers' notes provide in-depth information on document assembly, its impact, how to establish a project, and best practices. While the materials focus on establishing an initiative to support self-represented litigants, programs working on initiatives to support advocates will also find them helpful.
  • Project Evaluation Reports. Several projects have posted their evaluation reports, which can help you identify tactics worth replicating as well as potential pitfalls.
  • LawHelp Interactive's Contributor Portal. The Contributor Portal contains all of the content that has been posted to LawHelp Interactive. Once you sign up as a Template Provider and are approved, you can browse the content, test interviews, and download files to replicate.
  • Uploading Content to LawHelp Interactive. The A2J Author project has drafted instructions on how to upload both HotDocs templates and A2J Author modules. You must be an approved Template Provider to upload content to LawHelp Interactive.
  • Use this compilation of LHI Developer Resources from Capstone to find answers to all things HotDocs. In addition, if you are purchasing a HotDocs license and are working with an eligible legal services organization, you may be qualify for a large discount for the license. A description of the Charitable Organization Program is available here: http://www.probono.net/link.cfm?20847. To purchase HotDocs through the discounted program, sign up here. 

You'll need to join this DA Support Site to access the posted materials. 

 

Last updated 09/27/2022

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