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A2J Author vs HotDocs

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Here we compare some of the pros and cons of A2J Author vs HotDocs.

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A2J Author vs HotDocs

  1. 1. Development Process Chris Alfano, Automated Document Producer
  2. 2. Overview This development tutorial will cover: ● Choosing between A2J Author and HotDocs for an interview ● Development tips (interview structure, process, etc.) ● In-house development vs. project consultant ● Project maintenance ● Working with students, interns, and volunteers
  3. 3. Choosing A2J or HotDocs Factors favoring using A2J Author: ● The interview takes less than 30 minutes to complete ● The interview is targeted at users with limited reading comprehension ability ● The interview is seeking to explain the legal process to the user while they complete the interview Factors favoring using HotDocs: ● The interview takes more than 30 minutes to complete ● The interview is targeted at more advanced users ● The interview collects a lot of information (e.g., financial information for divorce cases)
  4. 4. Sample HotDocs Interview Divorce without children https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/divorce-without-children
  5. 5. Sample A2J Interview Name change for an adult https://www.illinoislegalaid.org/legal-information/name-change-adult
  6. 6. Interview Structure 1. Introduction (legal advice disclaimer, info needed, name and gender, etc.) 2. Qualifications (better to exclude users who do not qualify as early as possible) 3. Case Information (collect the substantive information filled in on the form) 4. Notice Information (method of service, whether the other party is represented by an attorney, etc.) 5. Conclusion (how to save and print, what to do next, etc.)
  7. 7. Development Process 1. Scope Document • Explains the goal of the project, scenarios covered, etc. • Contains an interview outline and/or specific question text 2. Work with Developer • Communicate with developer throughout process • Use web conferencing to demo features 3. Testing • Test locally and on the HotDocs/A2J server • Get help from interns, other staff members, etc. 4. Publish • Communicate with partner organizations • Check periodically for updates to the law • Continual improvement based on user feedback
  8. 8. In-House vs. Development Consultant Advantages of doing development in-house: • Direct control over development • Improve your A2J and HotDocs skills • Usually cheaper than working with a consultant Advantages of working with a development consultant: • Professional A2J/HotDocs expertise • Takes up far less of your organization’s time • Consultant offers an outside point of view
  9. 9. Project Maintenance Updates for changes to the law: • Review at least every few years • Subscribe to relevant bar association newsletters • Update interviews ahead of law change when possible User experience improvements: • Test new interviews with users (or at least non-lawyers) • Ask testers to fill out a short survey with ideas for improvement
  10. 10. Working with Students and Volunteers Keys to effective student projects: • Choose forms that a student can complete in one semester • Provide the student with sample interviews and a standard variable set • Be prepared to spend more time testing and reviewing the project Leveraging volunteer resources: • If you have interns, ask for their help with testing/research • Ask for feedback from members of the public • Take advantage of undergraduate volunteer programs
  11. 11. Thank you! Contact Info: Chris Alfano calfano@illinoislegalaid.org (312)977-9047 ext. 27

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