Mass Legal Forms was developed as a resource for the public to easily access many of the forms associated with civil claims in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This project was a collaboration with Sugarman and Sugarman, P.C.

The Challenge

How do you drive as much value or more to a consumer of legal services without requiring an in-person attorney meeting? There are many scenarios in which an in-person meeting with an attorney is necessary, but there are instances in which an attorney is providing advice that is not legal advice. That’s where we hoped to add value by: (1) helping a user determine whether they were required to fill out a form based on their circumstance, and if so (2) actually enabling them to complete certain forms on our platform. Leaning on some existing products like the Founder’s Workbench (developed by Goodwin Proctor) and the StartUp ToolKit (created by Orrick), we hoped to develop a tool that would be both informative and actionable.

The Process

Discovery

The long-term goal for this project is to create a dense repository of useful legal information and documentation. As product builders, we’ve seldom seen a company start with multiple offerings and be successful. With this in mind, we focused our discovery phase on a single document. Working with Sugarman, we worked to identify a document that the civil litigation firm often fills out with clients and does not require an attorney present. After reviewing the completion process for a variety of different forms, we determined that the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) Crash Report was the logical place to begin the user research phase.

User Research

We needed to gauge what, if anything at all, our potential users knew about Crash Reports. To gather our user research group, we asked the initial screening question: Have you ever been involved in a car accident? What we learned:

  • The majority interviewed had never heard of a Crash Report.
  • Those who previously filled out a crash report did so in an attorney’s office well after the date of the accident. As a result, many struggled to recall the various scene-specific details required in the form.
  • We also had some of the users attempt to complete the form. They found it incredibly convoluted and difficult to navigate without guidance. See for yourself: RMV Crash Report

Validation:

We felt confident that we had validated the crash report as the first form we would put on the platform based on a few metrics:

  • There was little education around who needs to fill out this form and for what purpose.
  • Users found the process of completing this form incredibly cumbersome.
  • The document was publicly available, and used by all law firms when assisting clients who had been involved in a major motor vehicle accident.
  • Firms help clients fill them out, but it is not necessary for an attorney to be present Mass Legal Forms was developed as a resource for the public to easily access many of the forms associated with civil claims in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This project was a collaboration with Sugarman and Sugarman, P.C.

Product Hypotheses

Our goal from the start was to inform our users and provide them with actionable tools to achieve valuable results. With these two goals and the subject matter in-hand (e.g. crash reports), we took to the whiteboard. First, we focused on helping a user determine whether they were required to fill out a crash report. Using the questions that the attorneys at Sugarman ask their clients, we crafted a simple decision tree. Second, we used the existing crash report to design an intuitive user flow, with information and guidance throughout. Lastly, we started to prototype a functioning product.

Prototyping

Using our Product Hypotheses, we mocked up a rough version of the product and put all of the screen into an InvisionApp walkthrough for Usability Testing. What we learned:

  • Users still wanted the option to contact an attorney, even if the system told them they did not need to fill out a crash report.
  • Users wanted to know how the information they provided in the crash report would affect them moving forward.
  • Many users requested the ability to move about the form builder without having to complete it sequentially.

The Result

User Interface Design

Armed with our learnings from the prototyping phase, we tweaked the flows accordingly, and designed the User Interface to reflect these changes. A major design challenge in this phase was working around the many fields that this document requires, while still maintaining an organized, simple look and feel.

Development

The greatest challenge that our development team faced in the entire project related to the legacy process that the RMV still uses, which required the document be mailed to the RMV in the exact format found on the website. Not only did we need to create the ability for a user to fill out the different sections of the form in an intuitive way, but we also had to input that data into the form as if it was filled out by hand. A unique challenge, and our development team was able to translate all of the data onto the form, enabling a user to download the PDF for printing and mailing to the RMV.

Takeaways

Filling out legal paperwork can be a tedious and oftentimes stressful experience for the average person. Digitizing the process as much as possible, while still offering the same level of attorney accessibility can be difficult without proper design and planning. Through prototyping and usability testing, we unveiled some key data points that impacted our product decisions for this application. We made sure to provide numerous of ways for a user to contact an attorney, if they require assistance. Additionally, we made sure the form was flexible enough that users could navigate it freely. A crash report requires a ton of information and our goal was to help make this process less complex and vague for the average consumer.

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