Legal Process Automation as a Tool for Access to Justice: A Proposal to Restructure First Contact Interviews in the Federal Institute of Public Defenders

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Patricia Villa Berger

Abstract

This article argues that digitalization (which includes legal process automation) is a tool for bridging the gap of access to justice and improving operational performance through features that are scalable, standardized, asynchronous and accessible. Firstly, the article provides an introduction to digital justice and technology use in legal services, including subsections about the countries that are leading the way in digital justice. This article also develops an implementation proposal, using Mexico and the first-contact interview of the Federal Institute of Public Defenders (FIPD) as a possible example of legal process automation. Thus, the third section offers background information on access to justice in Mexico and the FIPD, as well as some ideas on the complexities of a first contact interview, and what elements should be taken into account when automating this process (software, databases, plain language and design). The final section presents the interview prototype through which the principles and ideas discussed in the previous sections are put into practice, ultimately demonstrating the feasibility of the proposal.

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