Legal Services Alabama has launched a new, online legal empowerment tool in Alabama for people representing themselves in court to prepare their own legal documents online for free. Funded by the Legal Services Corporation Technology Initiative Grant program (TIG), the new LSAutomation site allows clients managing their legal issues to complete a survey that automates the necessary legal documents they need to file.
Document automation strengthens people’s rights by making legal forms and pleadings easier to use and file.
“Every year, Legal Services Alabama receives thousands of requests for legal help with divorces alone. LSAutomation will help people who cannot afford an attorney fill out the documents they need to file for divorce with the courts. The online tool will remove some of the barriers that exist for self-represented litigants,” says Nell Brimmer, LSA Managing Attorney of Client Access.
Many people who cannot afford an attorney for a civil legal problem – usually divorce, housing, or a consumer issue like a wage garnishment – believe they have no way forward in the legal system.
The LSAutomation tool will help people create the documents they need to file for divorce, protect their wages from garnishment, or answer an eviction.
According to Brimmer, “The impact of having a tool that helps people navigate the legal system can’t be overstated. When we build access to the legal system that doesn’t require the navigation skills of a lawyer, we increase access to justice for communities that are low-income and marginalized by poverty. They can feel confident that they have the necessary information and documents they need to feel empowered when facing difficult legal issues.”
Currently, clients seeking divorce automation can visit legaldocsal.org to begin the process of filing for divorce. Other automation tools coming to the LSAutomation site include housing, consumer and family – which will include automation for filing for protection from abuse orders.
For every client LSA helps three are turned away due to funding and staff capacity. For those with easily automated civil legal needs, LSAutomation will empower low-income people to pursue solutions when a legal aid attorney isn’t immediately available.
LSA has collectively closed over 14,000 cases in 2022, saving communities and clients over $18 million. LSAutomation will increase the number of clients served, helping individuals and government programs save even more in years to come.
The LSA law firm provides free, client-centered, civil legal advocacy to low-income Alabamians and collaborates with others across the state and nation to find solutions to systemic issues caused by poverty and social justice inequities. LSA is one of the preeminent legal aid organizations in the country in bridging the civil justice gap through its recognized commitment to racial, social, and economic justice and support of a talented, diverse, and innovative staff.
LSA offices are located in Anniston/Gadsden, Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Selma and Tuscaloosa. LSA offices handle civil cases only. Each office has lawyers licensed to practice in Alabama and other staff who know how to help low-income people resolve their legal problems.