Good people are working hard on initiatives to bridge the gap in access to legal assistance in criminal and civil justice matters regardless of wealth and status.
These include legal aid organizations, community activism lawyering, and pro bono programs. (See the ABA’s Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives for more information.)
There’s even a ‘Hackcess to Justice’ movement where programmers and lawyers gather for a few days to explore new ways to use technology to expand access to justice by building mobile and web-based applications.
Here are some of the apps that are making a difference in peoples lives.
Heat Seek – Provides tenants with an easy way to record and report the temperature in their homes to ensure that landlords keep the heat on in the winter.
PaperHealth – Winner of the inaugural American Bar Associations “Hackcess to Justice” competition in 2014, this iOS app allows Massachusetts residents to quickly and efficiently assign a HealthCare Proxy or create a Living Will.
Due Processor – A web-based tool that allows users to find out their status for indigent legal service in Massachusetts, and for criminal defendants to calculate their prison sentences.
Disastr – A web app, as well as a native app for Android and iOS, Disastr provides news and alerts from trusted sources and forms to apply for legal assistance.
A2J Author – Tool used by the courts, clerk’s offices, legal services organizations, and law schools, to create automated, user-friendly web-based interfaces to guide individuals who need help.
Check out, also, the state-by-state Justice Index that provides information on which states are following selected best practices and providing necessary resources for ensuring access to the civil and criminal justice systems.
Finally, to keep up with the latest Access to Justice developments, check out (and subscribe to) Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog.
Know of an app that should be included? Please submit in the comments and we’ll update the list.