I am a perfectionist. If you meet me, it is not apparent because I have a relaxed demeanor—particularly if I am wearing a tie-dye and my favorite pair of Birkenstocks (I just got a new stash of Birkis in Hamburg that I hope will last me a lifetime and in very cool designs and colors). However, though I am a typical informal Gen Xer, I drive myself hard and have very high expectations for myself and the projects with which I am involved, be it a student run class at a low-income high school in North Philadelphia, a hotline, a lawyer in court program, or a national online document assembly clearinghouse and training camp, like my beloved LawHelp Interactive. I am always looking to make my projects better, generally with a sense of urgency.
I am very lucky in that for the past four years I have been working on changing the way poverty law is practiced in the US through
innovative uses of technology here at Pro Bono Net. In leading LawHelp Interactive, which allows low-income people to fill out interactive legal forms online for free, I am constantly looking, thinking, reading, and writing about ways in which we can improve our already excellent service. There are two events that happen with enough periodicity that always make me happy.
1) Our quarterly statistics, when we see the numbers of people using the online forms to get access to justice
2) Daily emails from those who share with us how LawHelp Interactive made a difference for them in their lives.
These two feedback methods help me reconfirm that what we are doing here at LawHelp Interactive with our partners is leading to great positive impact, and it is even sweeter because it is not just because I say so. Let me share:
Every day we serve 1,900 interviews, and assemble 1,087 documents. Credit here goes to the legal nonprofits that do the outreach about their websites and online forms in their local communities.
In the past 6 months, our partners have created and uploaded close to 700 new interviews for use online, some of them using A2J Author, all of them using HotDocs to assemble the form, through LawHelp Interactive.
The numbers are good but more important to me are those feedback emails that come in—and these are the ones that truly warm my heart and make each day a great new opportunity to keep pushing, thinking, writing, reading, sharing, talking about improvements, not only for LawHelp Interactive, but for our whole community. These emails confirm to me that the resources legal nonprofits and courts invest to create these forms and the technical infrastructure, support and training we provide them while they do this are worth it. Some of my favorite examples are below:
Foreclosure Forms Users
“This was very helpful and easy. This step by step interview is useful during a very difficult time in one’s life.”
“This was extraordinarily helpful! A fantastic service! A very big heartfelt thank you!”
Divorce Forms Users
“I first dreaded going to this web site with pre-conceived ideas it would be complicated and only add to my frustration. I was surprised at the simplicity and convenience. This is a mind/heart breaking chore, but thank you for making it a little easier.”
“Thank you so much! This was much easier than I thought and it was something that I dreaded doing, but this helped me process things smoothly and quickly. Thanks again.”
Consumer Debt Affidavit to Vacate Judgment Form Users
“Thank you so much for providing this service. I was almost ready to give up in trying to vacate an unfair judgment.”
“It was really helpful and self-explanatory. Thank you for the information.”
Application to Sue as an Indigent Users
“Excelente ayuda……gracias.” (Excellent help, thanks.)
“Your Interactive Form was very helpful. I wouldn’t have known what to do on my own. Thank you very much.”
Child Guardianship Forms Users
“The information and documents to file were a tremendous help. Thank You.”
“This site is absolutely wonderful! Thank you so much!”
Medical Support Order
“This website is a godsend for people with limited resources. It’s very easy to use and provides tremendous guidance. Thanks for everything!”