CBA Record July-August 2018


John Levin’s Ethics columns, which are published in each CBA Record, are now in- dexed and available online. For more, go to legalethics/. ETHICS QUESTIONS? The CBA’s Professional Responsibility Commit- tee can help. Submit hypothetical questions to Loretta Wells, CBA Government Affairs Direc- tor, by fax 312/554-2054 or e-mail lwells@ No doubt, also, the software company makes a lot of money out of selling user- friendly software. Courts and other governmental agencies will not make any money out of building user-friendly interfaces for low income Americans. However, if we believe that access to justice is a basic right, the time has come to build them. To notify us of your email address, call 312/554- 2135 or send an email to including your name, phone, email address and CBA member number. Please note that the CBA does not provide or sell member email addresses to outside entities nor will we bombard youwith unnecessary emails. Thank you! Wanted: CBA Member Email Addresses We need your email address! By providing us your email address, you will: –Receive the CBA e-Bulletin every Thursday containing a list of the following week’s com- mitteemeetings and speakers noting freeMCLE credit, upcoming seminars, networking events and important news about the Association. –Receive timely notices of your committee meetings, topics and speakers. –Cut down on the amount of mail and faxes the CBA sends which helps lower these expenses and saves trees!

BY JOHN LEVIN      A s a lawyer in the 21st Century, you have no doubt spent much time on-line doing legal research

and court practices and write a step-by- step procedure that would meet all the requirements and protect the interests of the defendant. The only problem is that the defendant would need a legal background to understand what you had written. As Nicole Bradick stated–it is hard to build a good user interface. (As an exercise, do an Internet search by entering “small claims court answer pro se” and then the name of any state. The responses are fine for lawyers, but of little use to low-income laypersons.) To address the access to justice problem, the interface should be built from the point of view of the user–the low-income defen- dant. The interface should be presented in simple, clear language. It should lead the user step by simple step through the problem as efficiently as possible. It is the developer’s problem if the interface is too complex for the user. All of this requires working with users to understand how to best communicate–not starting with the rules and hoping that someone will understand the result. As an example that such an interface can be built, I suggest looking at tax prepara- tion software. Long ago, I prepared my tax return by starting with a pencil (and eraser) and the IRS Instructions. After several hours I had a draft tax return based on my tax records and my interpretation of the instructions. Today, the software leads me through a series of questions and I simply enter numbers into the system. If I need more guidance, it is only a click away. When I have answered all the questions, the program presents me with a completed tax return, arithmetically correct and some- times with schedules I never saw before. No doubt a great deal of work went into constructing the interface of the program to simplify preparation of the tax return.

or using governmental websites or websites of legal service providers. How often have you muttered while attempting to navigate a labyrinth of links something like: “I have a law degree. I am trained to do this stuff. How1 can a layperson possibly do this on his or her own?” This question was raised on May 2 at an all day program presented by the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Profes- sionalism entitled: The Future is Now: Legal Services 2.018, by Nicole Bradick, a businesswoman and legal technology and product design expert. In the context of questioning the absence of legal services to low-income Americans, she pointed to the “interface problem.” The interface is that screen you look at when you log onto a web site–and the answer to the ques- tion raised above is that a layperson often can not navigate the interface. In fact the complexity of the screen often keeps people from obtaining necessary legal help. The main cause of the interface problem is that the supplier of services or informa- tion–not the user–prepares the interface. For example, imagine that you are asked to prepare a web site that instructs people on how to file an answer to a complaint in small claims court. (Being sued in small claims court is a risk faced by many low- income Americans.) Being a good lawyer, you would look at the rules, the forms                  CBARecord  

52  

Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online