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Legal Innovation & Technology Lab
@ Suffolk Law School

The Document Assembly Line Project

This project is an assembly line to rapidly create mobile-friendly accessible versions of online court forms and pro se materials in multiple-languages for key areas of urgent legal need amid the COVID-19 crisis. We're operating out of Suffolk Law's Legal Innovation and Technology Lab in cooperation with the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission's COVID-19 task force. Though we're focused on MA specific content, we're sharing our work on GitHub in the hopes that our efforts can be replicated in other jurisdictions. All novel code we generate will be licensed under an MIT License, and we're intentionally building on the open source docassemble platform. Here's what we're doing, and how you can help.

Note: the situation is quickly evolving, and everything here could change at any moment.

How You Can Help

We've set up an assembly line so folks can slot into roles that best fit their skills. All of our coordination takes place over on . All you have to do to become part of the team is join the A2J Slack, add yourself to the #assembly-line channel, and introduce yourself. Once you're there, we'll help find something for you to do.

What We Are Doing

In the near term, we'll be producing docassemble interviews for a subset of existing court forms. We will be focusing on those forms most needed in the crisis. Interviews will be hosted on a server maintained by the Lab for the courts. Court personnel will be given secure direct access to completed forms on the server. Consequently, the public will be able to initiate and file these forms with the court from their phones or a computer without the need to save, print, sign and mail or upload documents.

Overtime, we will expand the number of forms offered and work to provide more context and assistance to users working through the interview. That is, at first, our interviews will just be mobile-friendly versions of existing forms that one doesn't need to mail or deliver in person. This, however, will change over time as more context is added to help guide users through the process.

Our current workflow is as follows (and though we make the workflow sound linear, we're running most of these tasks in parallel):

  1. The court and other stakeholders identify and give us copies of existing forms to automate. We're actively working on convening these stakeholder groups and expect to have more forms from the court soon.
  2. We will do some light preprocessing, but mostly we're just throwing forms into a collection and batch processing them to auto generate docassemble templates. The expectation is that we're dealing primarily with PDF files.
  3. We're also training subject matter experts (e.g., law students, lawyers, paralegals et al.) on how to add context to the templates and having them do just that, reordering things, grouping questions, and providing copy for the end user. Note: this is very much about producing MVPs (minimum viable products). For now, that's just online versions of existing forms.
  4. We then review, iterate as needed, and publish "finished" versions to the server, allowing the court to access the data directly so as to avoid the need for printing and mailing or using insecure methods like email.
  5. "Finished" versions of content are then translated into multiple languages, reviewed, and published to the server.

Collaboration Tools

We have two public Slack Channels:

Work assignments and to do items are maintained on our Trello boards:

Meetings

We have daily meetings during the work week via Zoom at 12:30pm Eastern. You can find recordings of these, along with training videos and the like, in the embedded playlist below. To get the Zoom link, you'll need to join the A2J Slack. Alternatively, you can find them all online here.

Our Team

People

Not everyone on the team is on Twitter, but here's a Twitter list made up of team members. New folks are joining the team every day, and though we try to keep this list up-to-date, like this entire project, it is ever changing.

Warren Agin

Lawyer who plays with data. Practiced bankruptcy, corporate and internet law for 28 years. Now managing director for Elevate Services' Digital Strategy & Solutions group.

Twitter | LinkedIn

Kate Barry

Staff attorney in the family law unit at Greater Boston Legal Services.

Matthew Brooks, DocAssembly Line Project Manager

Matt Brooks is a staff attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services who focuses on consumer debt issues. He is also an occasional docassemble developer, a former Equal Justice Works Fellow, and a former law clerk for the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas. He once rode The Cyclone rollercoaster in Coney Island 135 times in a row to raise an embarrassingly small amount of money for charity. The experience haunts him to this day.

LinkedIn

Esme Caramello

Faculty Director at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Member of the Access to Justice Commission and its COVID-19 Task Force

University Listing

David Colarusso, Director of the Legal Innovation and Technology Lab, Practitioner-in-Residence

David Colarusso is the Director of Suffolk University Law School's Legal Innovation and Technology Lab. An attorney and educator by training, he has worked as a public defender, data scientist, software engineer, and high school physics teacher. He is the author of a programming language for lawyers, QnA Markup, an award winning legal hacker, ABA Legal Rebel, and Fastcase 50 honoree. In 2017 he was named one of the ABA's top legal tweeters.

Personal Website | Twitter | LinkedIn | LawArXiv

Charlotte Damico

I am a 3L at Drexel Law School in Philadelphia, PA. Looking forward to helping out!

LinkedIn

Rose Devlin

Rose is the lead UX/UI designer at Theory and Principle, a legal technology product design and development firm based in Portland, Maine. She has been a designer for 12 years, starting her career as a graphic designer in San Francisco and then moving on to user experience design in 2013. Rose has designed products ranging from large eCommerce sites, to health care products, to applications in the justice space. She is skilled at Sketch and InVision prototyping, moodboards and typography, illustration, and user flows. She has a BFA in Communications Design from Syracuse University’s School of Visual and Performing Arts and is a regular contributor to local User Experience Professional Association chapters.

LinkedIn

Hadley Duncan

I am a 3L in Quinten Steenhuis's Lawyer Smart Machine course. Prior to law school I worked for a public relations firm in Boston. I attended Trinity College for undergraduate school and played varsity lacrosse and field hockey during my four years there.

LinkedIn

Alex Faig

3L at William & Mary Law School; grew up in Richmond, Virginia.

LinkedIn

Michael Hofrichter

Outgoing Executive Director for Houston Volunteer Lawyers. Former Operations/Tech at HVL where I did some major HotDocs projects, Docassemble projects, integrated Docassemble into our LegalServer configuration, and other database customizations. Basically held every job at HVL in the decade I worked there and got my first full-time job there because I was a self-taught techie when they needed someone. I went to law school at the University of Houston, undergrad at Brandeis University, and grew up in New Jersey. Outside of work, I'm an ultimate frisbee enthusiast and father of two young kids.

Twitter | LinkedIn

Abigail Holt

UK Barrister and part-time First-Tier Tribunal Judge Oxford University - MA Jurisprudence Inns of Court School of law - Barrister-at-law Manchester University - MA Healthcare Law and Ethics Kings College, London - Post-graduate Diploma European Law Regents University, London - Diploma in Mediation and ADR My practice at the Bar is pulmonary disease litigation, clinical negligence and all medical cases (including regulation of healthcare professionals) and general personal injury. From my judicial experience, I have knowledge of human rights, immigration, asylum and elements of EU law and international conventions. Executive Committee of the European Circuit of the Bar (Treasurer)

Professional Website

Dan Jackson

Dan Jackson directs the NuLawLab at Northeastern University School of Law, an interdisciplinary innovation laboratory working to merge creative arts and law to create new models of legal empowerment. Dan is a 1997 graduate of Northeastern Law and a 1990 graduate of Northwestern University. Following a postgraduate clerkship with The Hon. Hugh H. Bownes at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, Dan worked for 13 years with the law firm of Bingham McCutchen, ultimately serving as the firm’s director of attorney development after practicing in the employment law group. Prior to law school, Dan worked as a designer for theater. He continues to do so, most recently with the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival and The Provincetown Theater.

LinkedIn

Maeve MacGlinchey

I am a South African attorney and notary with four years experience in litigation and transactional law. I resigned from practice at the beginning of 2020 to pursue my interest in improving access to justice and the supply of legal services through the use of technology.

Twitter | LinkedIn

Michelle

Coder interested in creating with people, not for them.

Twitter

Noelle Lussier

Fourth year evening student at Suffolk University Law School

Pablo Perez

Right to Counsel Coordinator at the Eviction Defense Collaborative, San Francisco

Twitter

Liza Rosenof, Legal Research & Innovation Librarian

Before coming to Suffolk in 2015, Liza worked as a reference librarian at the Western New England School of Law Library in Springfield, MA. While still in law school, Liza served as an articles editor on the Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review. She also interned at the Northeastern University School of Law Library and worked part-time at the Honan-Allston branch of the Boston Public Library during library school.

LinkedIn | University Listing

Tyler Shannon

Tyler is a licensed architect in Massachusetts where he leads the data science and research practice of a 100-person architecture and design firm. His work overlaps areas of urban planning, housing and transportation policy, real estate and technology. Tyler is currently in the early stages of the Law School application process and is looking forward to getting more involved in the legal community. Tyler lives in the South End of Boston with his wife and cat.

Twitter | LinkedIn

Quinten Steenhuis, Clinical Fellow, Legal Innovation and Technology Lab

Quinten Steenhuis is a clinical fellow at Suffolk Univeristy Law School in their Legal Innovation and Technology Lab. Quinten has practiced housing and eviction defense law since 2008, and has been a professional programmer and web application developer since 2001. He speaks at area law schools and blogs frequently on the topic of legal technology. He works on projects addressing social justice and access to justice with technology focusing on the topic of housing and evictions. Quinten is an active member of his local community, serving as an appointed member of the City of Cambridge's Recycling Advisory Committee, serving on the Access to Justice Commission's working group on housing through the Justice for All initiative, founding a neighborhood political action group, and serving as the long-time president of a Scrabble club in Somerville, MA. He received his B.Sc. in Logic and Computation with an additional B.Sc. in Political Science from Carnegie Mellon University and J.D. from Cornell Law School.

Personal Website | Twitter | GitHub | LinkedIn

Henry Sturm

I'm a 3L at Northeastern University School of Law and the resident legal design apprentice with the NuLaw Lab. Alongside NUSL's Domestic Violence Institute, I am working to help our DV Clinic rapidly respond to the COVID crisis and the likely increase in intimate partner violence during the stay-at-home period. We are doing this by using technology like the Doc Assembly Line to connect with potential clients in Dorchester, MA, which is what brought me to this project.

Most importantly, I'm a proud Texan and a pet-parent to 3 cats and 1 dog.

LinkedIn

Katharine Walton

Kat is a second-year law student at the University of Illinois School of Law. She plans to practice in Chicago after she graduates. In her free time, she enjoys reading mystery novels.

LinkedIn

Organizations

The following organizations and groups have generously donated the time of their employees/members.