• Revolutionizing Access to Justice: The Role of AI-Powered Chatbots and Retrieval-Augmented Generation in Legal Self-Help

    Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) present numerous opportunities to routinize and make the law more accessible to self-represented litigants, notably through AI chatbots employing natural language processing for conversational interactions. These chatbots exhibit legal reasoning abilities without explicit training on legal-specific datasets. However, they face challenges processing less common and more specific knowledge from their training data. Additionally, once trained, their static status makes them susceptible to knowledge obsolescence over time. This article explores the application of retrieval-augmented generation (RAG) to enhance chatbot accuracy, drawing insights from a real-world implementation developed for a court system to support self-help litigants.


  • Kansas courts now accept protection order petitions online

    Before the pandemic, we were approached by Kansas Judicial Branch to study the possibility to develop self-guided interviews for self-represented litigants seeking protection from abuse and protection from sexual assault, harassment, and human trafficking. Applicants seeking a protection order were required to visit the court to obtain and file the necessary forms. However, unlike other states, Kansas court clerks are not allowed to provide assistance with the completion of any forms or advising how a particular definition of a word applies to a specific situation. Applicants often have difficulties with legal jargon, filing the right forms, or omitting crucial information that could impact their cases. When the courts were ordered to close to the public due to the pandemic, the entire in-person process stalled and it became critical to find an alternative solution.

    With the help of a grant approved by the State Finance Council from federal coronavirus relief funds, we embarked on a project to create a scalable, accessible, and mobile-friendly web portal where a person seeking a protection order is guided through an online interview, and the answers used to populate forms a judge will review before granting an order.

    In 70 days, we created Kansas Protection Order Portal ( Applicants use a short interview to determine their eligibility for a protection order and if so, what forms they need to use. If they are not eligible for a protection order, we redirect them to a directory of resources organized by county and expertise. Applicants ready to start a petition could do so from the same portal. By answering dynamic and easy-to-understand questions, applicants will generate all the necessary forms and automatically file them with the court.

    The portal was launched in December for a limited number of counties in the state of Kansas. It will become available to all 115 counties in early January 2021.

    From the preliminary feedback we have received, both applicants and clerks appreciate the new process. But most importantly, people who need a protection order will no longer have to visit the courthouse in person to file the required forms. This is a significant improvement over the in-person process which places vulnerable individuals at tremendous risks.


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  • KS POP Celebrating Three Years of Tech-Driven Justice for All

    This article explores the development and impact of the Kansas Protection Order Portal (KS POP), highlighting the vital role of law librarians in the portal's design and implementation. The article showcases how KS POP has streamlined the legal process for domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking victims in Kansas, marking a significant advancement in accessible legal support and serving as a model for future innovations in the justice system.


  • White Paper: Technology and Self-Help Centers in State Court Systems

    Technology and Self-Help Centers in State Court Systems. Assessing the Need and Offering Solutions

    This white paper examines the effectiveness of self-help tools offered by state court systems in response to the pandemic and describes the solutions CiviLaw.Tech offers to create a more robust technological response to the issues litigants face when representing themselves in court.


    COVID-19 and the subsequent measures to limit its spread have had a disruptive effect on all aspects of our lives, including access to legal services and court operations. It strained an already overwrought CJ system, highlighting issues with case backlogs, evidence-sharing, and file storage.

    At the same time, COVID-19 was a catalyst for the court to accelerate the deployment of digital solutions, such as virtual hearings, electronic filing for attorneys, and in some states, the implementation of a centralized case management system. Thanks to grants from the state's Federal Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program, courts were able to respond to the immediate challenges caused by the pandemic.

    Still, the limitations of in-person access to resources (i.e. self-help centers, court libraries, and court clerks) and the dependence on paper-based processes continue to exacerbate the lack of access to legal services for self-help litigants, especially low-income citizens and those with time-sensitive matters, such as emergency protection orders.

    The impact of the last several years offers opportunities. This report reviews the varied ways that state court systems have attempted to meet the needs of the public. Some can be leveraged as best practices, while others highlight barriers that pose risks to achieving the optimum outcome of greater access to justice.

    Finally, this report outlines the solutions that CiviLaw.Tech can offer court systems, with highlights of systems already being used in several courts throughout the country.