Digital Curb Cuts: Towards an Inclusive Open Forms Ecosystem
40 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2021 Last revised: 22 Apr 2022
Date Written: August 25, 2021
In this paper we focus on digital curb cuts created during the pandemic: improvements designed to increase accessibility that benefit people beyond the population that they are intended to help. As much as 86% of civil legal needs are unmet, according to a 2017 study by the Legal Services Corporation. Courts and third parties designed many innovations to meet the emergency needs of the pandemic: we argue that these innovations should be extended and enhanced to address this ongoing access to justice crisis. Specifically, we use the Suffolk University Law School's Document Assembly Line as a case study. The Document Assembly Line rapidly automated more than two dozen court processes, providing pro se litigants remote, user-friendly, step-by-step guidance in areas such as domestic violence protection orders and emergency housing needs and made them available at courtformsonline.org. The successes of this project can extend beyond the pandemic with the adoption of an open-source, open-standards ecosystem centered on document and form automation. We give special attention to the value of integrated electronic filing in serving the needs of litigants, a tool that has been underutilized in the non-profit form automation space because of complexities and the difficulty in obtaining court cooperation.
Keywords: open source, curb cuts, e-filing, access to justice, agile, human computer interaction, courts, user experience
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