Legal Design and Tech We’re Building
In Spring 2020, we built a national Legal Help FAQ platform, with 50-state coverage, of renters’ rights and protections during the COVID-19 emergency.
Our team did extensive legal research and assembled a national network of housing law experts to be able to present, in plain language, if renters could be evicted, how much time they had to pay rent, and what new protections they might have in court. It also has a national database of local legal aid groups, court self-help sites, emergency rental programs, and other services that we could connect renters to in each state.
We designed the site to be expandable in coming months, to include more guides and FAQs on how a renter can navigate the eviction process and raise defenses to protect themselves. This site is unique in providing national coverage and detailed legal information for renters.
The Legal Help FAQ platform was built with the support of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
We are researching and building what the most promising ways to address the eviction crisis are, and we are building a network of local city leaders to coordinate the development and evaluation of these new interventions. These include new policies, technologies, and service models, that we are profiling on our Eviction Innovation platform.
In partnership with the National League of Cities, we are leading a multi-city innovation cohort. We are working with five cities’ leaders from local government, legal aid, courts, and community groups to scope, implement, and evaluate new eviction pilots, coordinated across cities.
Our team has been building a user-centered taxonomy of legal problems that people might have in the U.S. It’s called the LIST (Legal Issues Taxonomy). Formerly we had been calling it National Subject Matter Index version 2, since it is an iteration of a taxonomy originally developed by legal aid technologists fifteen years ago.
This taxonomy is an essential tool for classifying people’s issues and the legal help resources available to them online. The taxonomy provides standard issue codes, definitions, and examples of the legal scenarios that people might find themselves in.
It is useful for app and bot developers, machine learning projects, legal needs analysis, legal help webmasters, and others who are interested in building more interoperable, AI-powered legal tools.
Learned Hands is a machine learning project to use interactive games to build tools that can automatically spot people’s legal issues. We built this game for law students and lawyers to play, by reading people’s legal stories from Reddit and elsewhere, and then labelling the stories with standard legal issue labels.
With this labeled data, we can then train machine learning models to automatically spot people’s issues and potentially connect them with resources, find patterns of needs, and integrate more AI into access to justice tools.
As more people play Learned Hands, it contributes to the SPOT classifier, which can then be used by our bots and other groups’ tools to spot people’s legal issues in their posts and tweets.
The goal is to be able to help people find the local, public interest help — even if they don’t know that their problem around debt, family, housing, work, or traffic actually has a legal solution
This was built with Suffolk LIT Lab and the support of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Flood Proof is a mobile app to help people after a natural disaster to start the process of ‘clearing title’ to their house. We built it with the ABA Center for Innovation, and local legal aid groups in Louisiana and Texas.
Wise Messenger is a web application that allows courts, legal aid groups, and others to send automatic text messages (or other messenger application messages) to their users. It lets groups create interactive templates of hearing reminders, intake screeners, procedural coaches to people going through the legal system.