Lee Clerk Linda Doggett serves on Innovative Legal Portal Committee
Thursday, June 25, 2015
As a member of the National Center for State Courts Portal Requirements Advisory Committee, the Honorable Linda Doggett (Lee) is helping to develop a first-of-its-kind website that would combine legal aid, courts and self-help systems in a single online resource.
Clerk Doggett and other advisory committee members hope to extend civil justice to a broader range of people by establishing a website where people who can’t afford an attorney for civil matters can either find one or get the legal information they need without hiring counsel.
The portal will use evidence-based decision trees to guide people through decisions about how best to resolve their legal problems, what kind of assistance to seek and what the typical outcomes for various case strategies are.
Customers can go to the website for legal needs ranging from a restraining order in a domestic case to a landlord-tenant dispute. And, in more serious cases, the client would be put in contact with a lawyer willing to work pro bono or through legal aid agencies. In those cases where an attorney is deemed unnecessary, customers will be directed to other self-help resources, such as group legal training, instructional videos or the Clerk’s office.
“This website will triage or match people to the resource they need – like Match.com does for romance. When launched, it will be the first system of its kind in the nation,” says Doggett. “This would help close the gap for Florida’s low and middle income who just can’t afford an attorney.” According to the committee’s estimates, about 80 percent of the legal needs of the poor go unmet, so it really is a societal issue.”
The committee hopes to have a pilot project in place by the end of this year.