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A New Model for DVPA Cases. Diane Trunk, NLS – LA Harry Jacobs, AOC - CFCC. The Domestic Abuse Self-Help Project [DASH]. 20+ years of NLS Courthouse Clinics DASH: Partnership between NLS & L.A. Superior Court Self-Help Individual assistance Attorney review of all forms.

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a new model for dvpa cases

A New Model for DVPA Cases

Diane Trunk, NLS – LA

Harry Jacobs, AOC - CFCC

the domestic abuse self help project dash
The Domestic Abuse Self-Help Project[DASH]
  • 20+ years of NLS Courthouse Clinics
  • DASH: Partnership between NLS & L.A. Superior Court
  • Self-Help
    • Individual assistance
    • Attorney review of all forms
dash by the numbers
DASH by the Numbers
  • 4 clinics.
  • Across 100 miles of L.A.
  • Over 4,500 litigants annually.
  • 1 staff attorney.
dash the old model
DASH - the Old Model
  • Fill out each form using Essential Forms
  • Print forms
  • Litigant reviews forms
  • Fax forms to off-site attorney
  • Attorney reviews forms (40+ pages each)
  • Attorney calls volunteer for changes
  • Volunteer makes changes
  • (Forms re-faxed for more review)
  • Litigant signs forms
introduction to lawhelp interactive
Introduction to LawHelp Interactive
  • Collaboration of ProBonoNet, LSC, SJI, and Capsoft
  • ProbonoNet provides:
    • day-to-day management
    • Operates Web server.
    • Provides training and support.
  • In use in 28 states.

Logos and Graphics


try out the program
Try Out the Program
  • www.courtinfo.ca.gov/programs/equalaccess/dash.htm
q so how is this new a these programs use the technology differently to achieve new goals

Q: So, . . . how is this new?A: These programs use the technology differently to achieve new goals.

different types of programs
Different Types of Programs
  • Program intended for use by Litigants: TurboTax, ICAN!, EzLegalFile
  • Programs intended for use by Legal Professionals: Essential Forms, ProDocs
  • Program intended for use by both volunteers/litigants and legal professionals to work together at different (remote) locations.
goals of program
Goals of Program:
  • Usual suspects:
    • Stretch limited resources,
    • Solve DASH problems,
    • Use important features of computers, and
    • “Do no harm” (Don’t destroy what is good about the current services.)
  • Other (New) Goals:
    • Increase lawyers ability to control volunteers.
    • Increase participation of lawyers in the preparation of the litigant paperwork.
    • Improve lawyer’s ability to review papers and declaration.
usual suspects re use information
Usual Suspects: Re-use information
  • The answer to every question can be used consistently on every item on every form in the filing.
    • Not just caption information.
  • Answers from one program’s interview can be used in another program. Answers from the DASH DVRO program can be used to:
    • Start a Dissolution case
    • Start a Parentage case
allows attorney to automatically add text to declarations
Allows Attorney to Automatically Add Text To Declarations.
  • If a custody order is requested, the program automatically prints on the declaration: “I ask the Court for the custody and visitation orders described in the attached form DV-105 because: “.
    • (The volunteer is prompted to ask why the order is needed.)
  • If the volunteer indicates litigant needs an interpreter, the program automatically prints on the declaration: “I will need a [Spanish] interpreter for all proceedings in this case.”
reviewer s knowledge is used in the program
Reviewer’s Knowledge is Used in the Program

It speeds her review of the forms. If she sees that the “other protected people” are listed in DV-100 Item 3, She knows that they are also listed on the DV-110 and the DV-130

reviewer corrects errors directly
Reviewer Corrects Errors Directly
  • Word program produces an MS Word document. Document is emailed to attorney for review and editing.
  • Sample Declaration
  • Reviewer can change PDF forms by opening PDF program and changing answers.
the upside of the new model
The Upside of the New Model
  • Better quality declarations
  • Consistent, accurate forms
  • Faster forms preparation
  • More time to prepare the declaration
  • Program prints out litigant information
  • Faster backup
  • Easier backup
  • Attorney can edit declaration directly.
  • Mobile backup – not chained to fax.
upside con t
Upside (con’t)
  • The program opens the possibility for an attorney to assist many, many more litigants.
    • Currently, the attorney/litigant ratio is generally 1:12. That is 36 litigants assisted in 3 hours -- with every declaration and form reviewed.
      • DASH is recruiting pro bono attorneys for in-office review of forms. (No need to drive to the clinic.)
      • DASH is working with shelter advocates for off-site forms preparation. Shelter advocate can use the program and work with DASH attorneys or pro bono attorneys.
      • Assistance could be available at night and on weekends.
the downside of the new model
The Downside of the New Model
  • Requires a lot of upfront work. (Every field on every form is filled out. Many “warning” situation has be considered. The program is always a work in progress.)
  • The program slows down the process at first as volunteers adjust to the new system.
  • The program doesn’t eliminate the need to for another program (like Essential Forms).
downsides con t
Downsides (Con’t)
  • Volunteers can be resistant to change. Program doesn’t shorten the volunteers time with a litigant, but it changes the focus of interaction from paperwork to writing declarations.
  • This change:
    • Emphasizes some skills (writing declarations);
    • Deemphasizes other skills (operating Essential Forms); and
    • Requires New Training methods.
downsides con t1
Downsides (Con’t)
  • DASH uses ProBonoNet’s server in Dayton, Ohio everyday. The Internet, DASH’s network connection, and the LawHelp Interactive server can go down.
  • Creating a project (DASH)/program (LHI) requires village. It is a group project. It requires a lot of communication.
when is this right model where will it work
When is this right model? (Where will it work?)
  • Where does it fit with other self-help service models? (e.g., Litigant programs (e.g., EzLegalFile); Workshops)
    • Declaration is very important.
    • Legal Concepts for litigants are not complex or difficult to teach.
    • Volunteers/staff/shelter advocates/case workers are available.
    • Volume of paperwork is large.
others areas of law
Others Areas of Law
  • Guardianship
  • Conservatorship
  • Expungement of Criminal Convictions
  • Special Education
  • Collections
  • Native American Issues
geographic expansion
Geographic Expansion
  • Courts could share experts in areas of law that require special knowledge, but where individual courts can’t afford to employ an expert in a particular area of law.
  • A single attorney/expert could use a program to assist:
    • Groups of Courts in a Region
    • Entire State?
programs for litigants
Programs for Litigants
  • Litigants Using Computers at Self-Help Centers
  • Litigants Using Computers Anywhere
thanks for listening
  • Diane Trunk: dianetrunk@nls-la.org
  • Harry Jacobs: harry.jacobs@jud.ca.gov