ABA-MIT Appathon: Free Legal

Abstract:

  • Lead: Andrew Braunstein
  • Presentation:
  • Theme: Technology

In the currently saturated legal market, it is increasingly difficult to find “the needle in the haystack” - attorneys and legal resources that address each consumer’s unique needs, including expertise in a specific area of law, geographic reach, and often most importantly, cost.

Free Legal hopes to provide more direct, more streamlined, and more effective access to justice for those who need it most.

Body:

PROBLEM:

In the currently saturated legal market, it is increasingly difficult to find “the needle in the haystack” - attorneys and legal resources that address each consumer’s unique needs, including expertise in a specific area of law, geographic reach, and often most importantly, cost.

Though this problem is (at least partially) being tackled in the for profit legal space, there is an important group that is still left aimlessly searching for legal help: those without the resources to afford traditional legal services. This is despite the fact that there are extensive resources catering to this group, from non-profit and government run legal aid services, to law school legal clinics, and even traditional law firms that engage in pro bono work

There is a sufficient supply and demand for free legal services. The chief problem is that there is currently no easy way to find these services, and those that need them.

SOLUTION:

Free Legal is a web-based platform that provides users an easy and streamlined way to find and engage free legal services in their area. The site allows users to enter their legal issue and geographic information, and the site will find and connect users with free legal resources in the user’s area that can offer solutions.

Visitors to the site will first enter their zip-code or city and state, so that the site can ascertain their geographic location. Then, users select an area of law from a menu of available legal specialties and issues.

After making those selections, users will be taken to a page presenting the results of their search: a listing of free legal services (including government, non-profit, and other volunteer/free legal aid services, law school clinics, law firms engaged in pro bono work, and other relevant services) specializing in the selected area of law and within a certain distance of the user’s entered zip-code or address. Upon selecting one of these listings, users will be taken to that listing’s individual website, where they can read more about the organization and apply to receive its services. *Eventually, the site will have internal pages for all its listed organizations with other features, including reviews, more in-depth information on the services they provide, and an internal application form that can be used to apply to many organizations at once.

Another “side” feature of the site is the ability to access free (or at least very low cost) resources that allow users to better understand, and even take action on, legal issues they are facing. Many organizations offer these types of services that allow individuals to generate letters and agreements, create privacy policies and terms of service, file a complaint with a government agency, and take other action without the aid of a lawyer. This service on the site would present users with relevant resources of this kind based on their geographic location and selected area of law.

Free Legal hopes to provide more direct, more streamlined, and more effective access to justice for those who need it most.

Tags:

hackathon project

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