Chicago’s Self-Help Web Center is celebrating 10 years this year. Lately, there has also been much talk about access to justice, especially for middle-low income people, and the ways technology can help. The issue is percolating throughout the legal community, and, appropriately, A2J Author® took another major step in its 10-year history with the launch of A2J 5.0.
A2J Author® launched in 2004 as a joint project between the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) and the Center for Access to Justice and Technology (CAJT). In that time, the A2J authors community, which consists primarily of legal aid organizations and educational groups, has turned out A2J Guided Interviews that have helped more than 2.5 million people in the United States and abroad, most of them low-income, pro se users. Keep in mind that the software has been available only as a locally installed package, and the actual interviews could only be created on a Windows machine.
The release of A2J Author® 5.0 at the beginning of this month marks a turning point. It is not an upgrade so much as it is a new product, and is available to larger groups of users and potential new authors, as CALI executive director John Mayer himself pointed out in his release message. A2J Author® 5.0 is a cloud-based application available to anyone using a modern operating system, regardless of what sort of computer they actually use. As a cloud-based application, authors will be able to create and publish guided interviews faster and more conveniently than in years past. Legal aid organizations will not have to rely on any further infrastructure, and future enhancements to A2J Author® will no longer require long, drawn-out release cycles but can instead be implemented in real-time as needed by Mayer and his team. As an example, they’re already at work on a mobile version that will soon be available for tablets and smart phones.
A2J Author® 5.0 is not yet fully end user facing since there does need to be some migration from the old to the new version which is still being completed, and as such A2J 4.0 will remain functional for several months to come. But the new A2J 5.0 is here, and it’s exciting to think about what can come about as a result of it (Mayer writes that he hopes to serve 20 million people per year).
New authors, and current authors who still need to update their accounts, can register for A2J 5.0 at http://www.a2jauthor.org/home. To read more about the 5.0 release and their vision for the future, visit Mayer’s release message. Or keep up on social media by following @A2JAuthor or @caliorg.