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Improving Legal Service Delivery With Computer Technology

NCJ Number
R W McCoy
Date Published
560 pages
This project demonstrates the feasibility of computer-assisted legal services to the poor as tested in a pilot system in Cook County, Ill.
The Computer Assisted Legal Service Project, funded by the Office of Equal Opportunity, was an effort to develop and demonstrate certain computer applications that have potential for increasing the productivity of the legal services office. Its intent was to provide a high quality of client service, to save time in the schedules of attorneys and other law office personnel, to increase consistency in the handling of cases, and to aid in the education of the client about legal rights and responsibilities. The computer is programmed to print the legal documents required to process a client's case. The document writing program combines selected clauses from the computer-stored client record; it formats, edits, and prints the required documents under programmed control. Documents produced include client record summaries, legal pleadings of various kinds, and, where appropriate, correspondence from attorney to client or other parties. Another and somewhat less routine part of the project is the use of the computer as a legal interviewer. Attaining a cost-effective status may be more difficult than obtaining user satisfaction. The volume running on the current system is not sufficient, and the most obvious means to increase volume (by adding additional offices, for example) cannot be easily accomplished without changes in the current unique and unsupported system. Chapter end notes, 113 references, and sample Illinois and Wisconsin divorce cases followed through the system are appended. (Author abstract modified).