On April 1st a Legal Self-Help Center opened in the Iroquois County Courthouse in Watseka, Illinois. A crowd of nearly 50, including judges, county board members, an appellate court justice, the Circuit Court Clerk, and the Mayor of Watseka, gathered as Chief Judge Clark Erickson hosted a press conference to mark the opening of the center. The center will assist self-represented persons with their legal matters by providing a computer workstation where people can access online legal information via www.IllinoisLegalAid.org. A computer navigator staffs the center and can assist visitors in using the computer, finding the correct information and completing automated documents and forms.Those who need an attorney and qualify for legal services may be referred to Prairie State Legal Services. This center is the 11th such center to open in Illinois, with 8 more scheduled to open by the end of the summer. This project is being led by the Illinois Coalition for Equal Justice and Illinois Legal Aid Online, with startup funding for centers provided by the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation. Visit the online Iroquois County Self-Help Center at http://iroquois.illinoislegalaid.org.
Over the past several months Illinois Legal Aid Online has published many easy to use online automated documents and forms to www.IllinoisLegalAdvocate.org and www.IllinoisProBono.org. If you have not yet discovered them, go to either website, log in, and click on 'Automated Documents/HotDocs' in the Legal Resources library. Automated documents decrease the time it takes to prepare pleadings, forms, letters and other legal documents, while increasing accuracy and efficiency. You no longer need to type the same information multiple times in a document - you only type information once, and then the online system inserts it everywhere necessary. Information entered for one document can also be reused later to populate another document, thereby saving even more time. Automated documents are also great for newer attorneys and volunteers who may not be familiar with how to prepare certain documents.
Illinois Legal Aid Online is working with legal aid programs across the state to develop many more automated documents for legal aid and pro bono attorneys. Soon to be published documents include a simple will, the statewide order of protection petition and order, and a library of procedural forms including a motion to vacate judgment, motion for substitution of judge, motion to withdraw, motion to quash, motion to continue, CLSP/in forma pauperis, and many more. Look for these over the next couple months on www.IllinoisLegalAdvocate.org and www.IllinoisProBono.org.
Webcasting approved MCLE classes is an easy way to provide legal aid program staff with MCLE credit and a great incentive for volunteers. In Illinois there is an “interactive” requirement for online CLE classes. For live webcasts that requirement is met through the capacity for remote viewers to type questions to the presenter (see example). For archived webcasts, the interactivity requirement is met when you provide the contact information for an expert who viewers may ask questions after they view the class. The expert may be the actual presenter or another expert on the topic.
Illinois Legal Aid Online encourages you to webcast your training classes, and to get these classes approved for MCLE credit. For more information about webcasting contact Susan Muirhead at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about getting training classes approved for MCLE credit, see the Rules & FAQs of the MCLE Board.
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