A collaboration between the American Bar Association and Rocket Lawyer had led to a new program being launched that allows small business owners to get access to legal advice more easily. The program, called ABA Law Connect, has begun testing in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California. It uses Rocket Lawyer’s cloud-computing software to create a program that allows business owners to post a legal question for a small fee. The question, and a follow-up question, if desired, are answered by lawyers who members of the American Bar Association in good standing. Then, if the small business owner is pleased with the responses, they can establish a working relationship with the lawyer that answered their questions. In this way, both sides are benefited: lawyers have access to larger number of potential clients, and small business owners can receive legal advice promptly and cheaply.

This is simply one example of the ways that the American Bar Association is trying to make legal services more accessible, a goal that Rocket Lawyer also shares. The CEO and founder of Rocket Lawyer, Charley Moore, explains that he wanted his company to “leverage technology in order to bring quality and affordable legal services to small businesses”. Though ABA Law Connect is still a pilot program, hopefully it will made more widely available in the future.

Article via ABA JournalOctober 1, 2015

Photo: Heine Brothers Coffee via Independent We Stand [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

For parts of northwest Mohave County, Arizona, accessibility to court services used to be a problem. Surrounded by the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, and the Virgin River Gorge, the closest court building is more than an hour away. This presents a problem for many of the locals. Mohave County has a high poverty rate and many low- and fixed-income residents, many of which have difficulty obtaining transportation. Thankfully, the IT staff of the Mohave County Superior Court under the direction of the court technology systems manager, Kyle Rimel, have been able to find a unique solution. By setting up the North Country Kiosk at a much closer DMV location, residents of Mohave County can now use video chat to obtain multiple court services. The presiding judge of the Mohave County Superior court, Charles W. Gurtler, says that, “The kiosk has been an absolute godsend as far as those people are concerned.” Among its features are the ability to access any courtroom in the county, pay fines, acquire forms, and even make filings or court appearances.

This isn’t the only way that Rimel and his staff are using technology to increase accessibility. Courthouse posters now include scannable bar codes so visitors can learn about jury and divorce information or receive directions. Additionally, an Internet chat line that provides access to court employees has been implemented, and the IT staff has outfitted nineteen courtrooms with audio-video equipment, allowing for different ways of presenting cases. Even though the Mohave Superior Court was woefully under-utilizing technology when Rimel first started working in 2003, he states that now, “our goal is to be one of the most technologically advanced courts in Arizona.”

For others looking to use technology to expand their court’s services, Rimel advises finding sponsors and realizing that courts may have to approach IT solutions differently than other entities. But the results are worth it: Gurtler has high praise for Rimel, calling him the “rock star of the IT world.”

Article via ABA JournalSeptember 16, 2015

Photo: Student pair video chatting with an ELL via Penn State [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]