Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology
Professor Ronald W. Staudt
Justice and Technology Practicum

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Course Information

Professor Staudt's office is Room 743. His telephone number is 312-906-5326 and his e-mail address is

Dina Nikitaides, Program Coodinator of the Center for Access to Justice & Technology, will assist in teaching the Practicum. Her office is 775 and her telephone number is 312-906 5331. Her email is

Chris Alfano is the TA for the course. His email is

Throughout the semester students will work on tasks outside of class designed to provide education in a variety of law related skills. The objective of the course is to teach perspectives and skills on justice and technology while building useful web resources to improve access to justice.

This course is a hybrid classroom and clinical offering. For the first half of the semester there are weekly assigned readings and a 2 hour class each week to discuss and analyze those readings. Field work at the Daley Center or other justice site is always an important component of the course but for the first five weeks all students must do at least 20 total hours of field work. During the second half of the semester several Tuesday afternnon classes will be devoted to group work on projects and peer review of student performances. In addition, during the second half of the course starting in week 7 you must schedule working sessions with the TA or Dina as follows: one session at least during weeks 7 or 8, and two sessions at least during weeks 9, 10, 11 or 12.


This course, like other Chicago-Kent clinical offerings, is graded on a pass/low pass/fail basis.

Class Attendance

All students should plan to attend all the class meetings. The group is small and your participation is essential for a successful discussion. Missing classes will be a factor in awarding a low pass or failing grade.

Minimum time and weekly time/activity report

The minimum time commitment required for completion of the course requirements are mapped to the standards now in place in the Chicago-Kent Law Offices. In the Law Offices students are expected to put in a minimum of 224 hours (an average of 16 hours a week for 14 weeks) for 4 hours of credit. For Justice and Technology Practicum, also a 4 credit course, there will be 2 hours of class each week. Students will be expected to put in a minimum of 168 hours outside of class (which is an avereage of 12 hours each week).

A short report on your activities of the week and the time spent outside of class is required each week. Each week you must log at least 12 hours of time. This time can be devoted to any of the following activities:

  • preparation for class,
  • field work at the Daley Center or other approved site,
  • research and drafting of your Scope Document, StoryBoard, Research Memo or Final Report,
  • Hot Docs training,
  • A2J Author training,
  • work on your HotDocs template and
  • work on your A2J Guided Interview.

Here is a link to the form to be used for submitting your time/activity report.

Required Project Tasks

The requirements to complete this course and the deadlines for each assignment are set out in the Assignments section of this web site. In addition to class attendance and readings and the minimum time requirement reported on weekly time reports, there are seven performances that are required to complete this course:

  1. Daley Center Fieldwork and Observation- a minimum total of 20 hours during the first 5 weeks of the course.

  2. Project Scope Document due September 6, 2011.

  3. Project Research Memo due September 20, 2011.

  4. Project Storyboard due October 4, 2011.

  5. HotDocs Template due October 18, 2011.

  6. A2J Guided Interview due November 15, 2011.

  7. Final Report due November 22, 2011.

The Assignments page is a dynamic statement of the class topics, assignments and required student performances. The assignments may change as the semester progresses. Check this page before you start your reading and skill exercises for each class. The explanations set out next are intended to provide background and greater detail about each of these project tasks.


Detailed Explanations of Practicum Skill Work and Assignments

Daley Center Fieldwork

During the first five weeks of the course all students must complete at least 20 hours of observation and participation at the Self-Help Web Center or one of the other court centered help desks. This experience is intended to provide an experiential context for the legal research and software development that is at the center of the Practicum. Observing self represented litigants at the Daley Center will help students to understand their target users and also to experience the practical legal environment in Chicago. This hands-on experience with the justice issues faced by self represented litigants is always a legitimate part of the course. While all students must meet the time minimum during this period, web center service can be a part of course time minimums for any subsequent week.

Project Scope Document and Memo - First Draft

The requirements for the Project Scope Document and the Project Memo are described in Guided Interview Creation Process. At this link you will find a sample Scope Document and a sample Memo with some general guidance on the required elements and scale for these writing assignments. The Daley Center fieldwork described in the prior paragraph is critical research for this memo. In the Project Memo, students should focus on the justice problem facing self represented litigants and explore the legal dimensions, the procedural dimensions and the practical barriers facing people in the court house.


This part may be the most labor intensive of the project stages, depending on the project. You will find a template storyboard with common introductory and closing materials for sample interviews at Guided Interview Creation Process. During class on September 20 we will provide training on how to structure the solution to your justice problem into a manageable number of larger steps and then how to break these larger steps into small enough steps for self represented litigants to follow.

HotDocs Templates and A2J Author

HotDocs is the leading document assembly software in the legal market used by large law firms, corporate law departments, smaller firms and now dozens of legal aid programs and court technology experts. On October 4, class will be devoted to HotDocs training. Marc Lauritsen, the nation's premier HotDocs expert and a founder of the national HotDocs Server for legal aid will lead this training. Much of the training will be completed in a series of online tutorials. Class on October 4 will review the tasks and learning targeted by these tutorials and answer questions raised by those exercises.

A2J Author is the leading software for building soft interfaces to help low income people use the web to assemble documents that solve legal problems. A2J Author produces an A2J Guided Interview that can substitute for the HotDocs native interview or, alternatively, gather information for online legal aid intake, or similar processes. As with HotDocs, much of the training will be completed in a series of online tutorials. Class on October 18 will review the tasks and learning targeted by these tutorials and answer questions raised by those exercises. Classes on October 25th and November 1st will cover more advanced topics.

HotDocs Template Development and A2J Guided Interview Development

A variety of resources will be available to assist students during the development process. Both Chris Alfano, the course TA, and Dina Nikitaides, the Project Coordinator for the Center for Access to Justice & Technology will be available during class hours and by appointment during the development segments of the course. In addition to class sessions on Tuesday afternoon, all students are required to schedule three working sessions with Chris or Dina to be arranged at times convenient to groups of students. One of these working sessions must be in weeks 7-8 and two in weeks 9-12. Use group email, the class web site and the class Google Site to share issues and solutions with the entire class.

Final Report due November 23

During the last class all students will make short presentations of the results of their work demonstrating their templates and A2J Guided Interviews. Final Reports due for this class will be shared with the class and discussed as part of the course debriefing.



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Copyright © 2003, 2006, 2011Ronald W. Staudt