New Partnership Uses Technology to Assist Public with Legal Forms

August 21, 2014 8:56 pm 0 comments
Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald (left), M.Nalani Fujimori Kaina (center), Executive Director of Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and State Librarian Richard Burns (right) introducing software that helps expand access to the courts in libraries statewide.

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald (left), M.Nalani Fujimori Kaina (center), Executive Director of Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and State Librarian Richard Burns (right) introducing software that helps expand access to the courts in libraries statewide.

A new partnership provides the public expanded access to Self-Help legal resources. Legal Aid utilized state-of-the-art software to develop the Self-Help Interactive Court Forms, which will help guide the public in how to identify and complete civil legal forms.

Prior to unveiling the forms at the new Aiea Public Library, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald thanked State Librarian Richard Burns and M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii.

“Identifying and then filling out the correct court form can sometimes be a complicated process. Together, we have identified the 13 most frequently used civil legal forms and found a solution to assist self-represented litigants fill out these forms,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. “This software is similar to computerized tax preparation programs and will assist users to fill out forms easily and correctly. This is a great resource for the public, and will help the courts process cases more effectively and efficiently,” adds CJ Recktenwald.

The Hawaii State Public Library System will provide access to the Self-Help Interactive Forms on their 800 library computers and 250 netbooks statewide. Legal Aid kicked off their first training session for library staff on Wednesday, and will be providing similar trainings across the state to demonstrate how to navigate the new software. The software also includes a new chat feature to enable individuals to ask questions directly to Legal Aid about the self-help forms on its LawHelp website.

“We are so grateful for the commitment from the librarians across the state, who are going above and beyond to assist self-represented litigants,” said M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina, Executive Director of Legal Aid. “We felt that libraries would be the natural partner for us to provide self-help services because library staff members are already trained in assisting the public with research issues. We want to thank all the librarians who share their time, skills and experience to help expand Access to Justice.” The Judiciary’s Self-Help Interactive Forms Expansion project was made possible by a grant from the State Justice Institute and builds on funding Legal Aid received from the Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiative Grant.

“This new service is absolutely free for the public,” said State Librarian Richard Burns. “We often receive questions from the public about how to file for divorce, file a small claim, or from people who are facing landlord-tenant issues, and this new software program will help us better serve the public.” “The Hawaii State Judiciary has made increasing Access to Justice for people of all income levels a top priority, and we are committed to making the court process easier for the public to navigate. A special thank you to Access to Justice Chairman Daniel R. Foley and Retired Associate Justice Simeon R. Acoba for their continued leadership and support,” added Chief Justice Recktenwald.

The new A2J self-help interactive forms are also available online at Legal Aid’s LawHelp website and the Hawaii State Judiciary’s website.

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