June IAALS Convening to Discuss Building a “Court Compass” App for Litigants

May 12, 2016

Despite efforts by courts, communities, and bar associations around the country, there remains a serious need for tools that provide self-represented litigants with easy access to the information and resources required to appropriately navigate the court system. Technology is increasingly being leveraged in self-help solutions, and the concept of the litigant portal is at the core of this strategy.

Recent IAALS research on self-representation in family courts suggests that litigants would benefit greatly from having assistance navigating the court process, including:

  • Locating self-help resources;
  • Knowing what to expect at various stages of the process;
  • Filling out forms;
  • Managing deadlines; and
  • Understanding what is expected of them before and during trial.

They would also benefit from routine and proactive outreach by courts, to ensure they are on track and armed with the information they need to move through the court process. Technology and the litigant portal concept provide a promising venue through which to deliver these comprehensive services.

On June 9 & 10 at the University of Denver, IAALS is bringing together experts from around the country to explore how litigant portals and related online self-help solutions can be leveraged to better serve divorce and separation litigants who do not have lawyers to represent them. A Court Compass for Litigants: Building an App for That is invitation only, and attendees will participate in engaging discussions on:

  • The litigant portal concept and latest developments by the National Center for State Courts to provide a technical foundation for these tools from which courts and other vendors can build;
  • The various existing programs and innovations around the country that are using litigant portals or like-technology to serve self-represented litigants; and
  • The decisions that a family court litigant must make in the course of his/her case and the information and resources that are needed to best inform these decisions.

IAALS and attendees will translate the conversations on what a family court self-represented litigant needs from this technology into a detailed plan from which others can build and implement a portal and identify necessary requirements and services. IAALS intends for this June convening to be the beginning of a dialogue that will result in concrete, actionable steps for developing this technology solution.