Students in Hofstra Law’s Legal Tech Capstone Course will be an integral part of a new Nassau/Suffolk Law Services Committee, Inc. (NSLS) pro bono project. Launching later this month, the Self-Help Child Support Project will focus on child support for custodial parents in Suffolk County.
Joe Cohen, Luke Green, Nipun Marwaha and Anthony Noonan developed an online DIY (do-it-yourself) guided interview program, which will make it easier for unrepresented litigants in Family Court to complete petitions for child support. The model is for volunteer attorneys and law student interns to guide pro se litigants at the Self-Help Child Support clinics, assisting them with the guided interview program, answering their questions, printing the petitions, and educating them on what to do next.
“The Hofstra Law capstone students’ expertise will enable us to serve our clients more efficiently and will assist many Long Island litigants in navigating the Family Court with more confidence,” says Melissa B. Greenberger, Esq., who serves in a newly-created position as pro bono innovator at NSLS. “We are very grateful for their assistance and expect the DIY forms they created to be of great value to the community in the foreseeable future.”
The students, working with Professor Jennifer Gundlach, created the DIY program using A2J Author — Web-based legal software developed and supported through a partnership between Chicago-Kent College of Law and the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI).
“I am so proud of the work that my students did to first gain an understanding of NSLS’ goals in creating the Self-Help Child Support clinics and then work with Melissa to develop the A2J guided interviews that can provide easy assistance for pro se litigants,” said Professor Gundlach, who is also senior associate dean for experiential education.
The Self-Help Child Support Project is designed as a pro bono project for law students, who are required to complete 50 hours of pro bono service prior to admission to the New York Bar, and attorneys emeritus. The Hofstra Law capstone students completed their 50 hour pro bono service requirement through their work in the course. The Project will be funded, in part, by the Legal Services Corporation Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant.
Now, other law students seeking to complete their 50 hours of pro bono service with NSLS will be able to utilize the program to assist individuals who could not otherwise afford counsel. It is anticipated that the DIY guided interview created by the Hofstra Law students will be available online at www.LawHelpNY.org to improve access to justice for many other New Yorkers.