Self Help Conservatorship Clinic (SHC) – Hot Docs for Conservatorship filings - Los Angeles Superior Court

Self-Help icon Project Name: Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic (SHC) - Hot Docs for Conservatorship Filings
Court: Los Angeles Superior Court
   Documents: Forms and Instructions
    HotDocs Fact Sheet
   Links: Interview Website
    Conservatorship Litigant Input Program
    Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic

Overview/Program Description:

Legal service provider Bet Tzedek has operated the Self-Help Conservatorship Clinic at Los Angeles Superior Court since 2007 to provide assistance to pro per litigants that were referred to them from the court. A partnership grant from California State Bar initially funded the clinic.

To help with the overwhelming number of people that needed help at the clinic, the Judicial Council developed a program called HotDocs to provide assistance to self-help attorneys to quickly complete forms in a self-help setting. This program was developed as an interview tool that prompts users with questions throughout the process and uses the information to populate forms in the background and print them at the end (the structure is similar to the TurboTax program). HotDocs enables litigants to log on to a computer, answer interview questions, and complete the Judicial Council forms behind the scenes. When a litigant enters his or her name, address, and phone number, the data can populate up to 50 times depending on the form set. The Judicial Council owns the intellectual content and can make any necessary changes at a low cost.

Program Benefits/Savings:

HotDocs has greatly benefited the clinic. Historically, clinic staff and volunteers would take one to two hours to complete forms using their old program, but the new HotDocs program takes as little as seven minutes to complete and print, allowing them to help more people during the clinic hours. It appears that the clinic is taking less time to complete filings for applicants and they were able to devote time to creating and presenting a workshop for conservators to train them on the process and provide information about the forms.

Other court Self-Help Centers and legal aid agencies report that HotDocs programs save them staff time. Form sets for dissolution with children, probate, conservatorship, and others are long and complex. Simply entering basic caption information can be a time consuming process. Some courts use Justice Corps members or staff to enter information. Automating these repetitive tasks and conserving attorney and other staff time for the more complex aspects of assisting self-represented litigants saves a great deal of time.