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Public-Interest Challenge Ideas & Funding Donors - LexHacks 2015 Chicago - Legal Hackathon - MSU Law - OpenLegal

If you're interested in improving access to legal services, we need your help!

FIRST, help us generate public-interest challenge idea(s). Below is a list of ideas, several of which were generated/curated by Lisa Colpoys at Illinois Legal Aid Online. (Check out the Twitter traffic on #LexHacks and by @DanLinna and @lcolpoys.) Are there existing resources we should know about? How can we improve these challenges? Please let us know.

SECOND, we need donors to fund the best public-interest challenge idea(s). Let's aim for a $1,000 prize for the first challenge. When we get to $900 in commitments, I @DanLinna will put in the last $100. Who else is on board? (I am working with Lisa to determine how to structure this as a tax-deductible charitable contribution. At this moment, I cannot promise that it will be, but I am optimistic that we can figure this out.)

Current public-interest challenge ideas:

1. Pursuit Evaluator – Allows people to determine their likelihood of success in a particular matter. A specific instance (e.g. landlord-tenant evictions?) could be developed or a general evaluator for standard pursuits could be built. A later version would access case data to improve the evaluations. An initial model could include the generation of decision trees and provide an expected value for a case. For example, see the decision trees in this slide deck:

Lisa credits Ron Staudt for the Pursuit Evaluator idea:

2. Legal Health Check-Up - Assesses the legal health of an individual. This could start with only one area like family matters, estate matters, etc. Ultimately the checkup could be for “my family,” “my home,” “my estate,” “my finances,” “my business,” etc. For an example from Canada, check out the Halton Community Legal Services check-up, funded by Legal Aid Ontario’s Fund to Strengthen Capacity of Legal Clinics:

3. Benefits calculator - Could be narrowed to one benefit like food stamps. Some calculators already exist, but most are for lawyers, not clients, or based on old technology.

4. Child support calculator – Allows people to calculate what they should be paying or receiving. It would be especially useful for folks who have changed circumstances and need to figure out if they should go back to court to have the amount of an order increased or decreased.

5. Tenant Self-Help Guide – Some of these exist. Are there opportunities to improve these? Is it possible to take the best local examples and create a nationwide standard app that can easily be modified for each jurisdiction? Illinois example: Michigan example:

The purpose of this post is to start the discussion. If you’ve been working on these problems, we want to hear your thoughts. How can we get lawyers working with developers, lean thinkers, designers, data analysts, and other professionals to improve the delivery of legal services?


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