Posts tagged MyLawBC
MyLawBC’s Dialogue Tool improved

MyLawBC’s Dialogue Tool has been updated.

The Dialogue Tool helps you create a separation agreement that addresses your family’s needs. You start with an intake process where both you and your ex answer questions about your situation and set out your ideas for the future. Once you’ve both finished this step the system looks at your answers and creates a custom template separation agreement for you to fill out and complete.

Since MyLawBC’s launch we have been gathering feedback about the Dialogue Tool from both real world users and in user testing sessions. Based on this feedback we’ve made a number of improvements to the tool. Some of those changes are to the backend of the tool and may not be readily apparent. Here are some that you might notice:

  • The questions asked during the intake process have been rearranged to follow an order that users thought was more natural.

  • The legal clauses that are given to users have been updated to make them easier to understand.

  • A new section was added to show the original text of the legal clauses in the template so you can refer back to it after you have edited them.

We’ve heard a lot of positive things about the Dialogue Tool and we hope with these changes we’ll hear even more. You can try out the improved Dialogue Tool or learn more about it on MyLawBC.com.

Chatting about MyLawBC and more
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In a new podcast from the National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP), Sherry MacLennan, our Director of Public Legal Information and Applications, sits down to talk with Professor Julie Macfarlane about MyLawBC and finding new ways of delivering legal information.

You can listen to the podcast below and find links to everything they discuss on the NSRLP website.

Hot off the press: Promotional materials for MyLawBC

If you serve clients who are separating/divorcing, experiencing family violence, in danger of foreclosure (missed mortgage payments), or needing to make a will, power of attorney, or representation agreement, MyLawBC can help. And our just-released promotional materials can help you refer people there effectively. The language in all of these materials is conversational, warm, reassuring, and direct. Emphasis is on empowering people to work together through their legal problems. Items are visually related to the website wherever possible (e.g., My problem, my solution posters and notepads), use fun, playful, catchy phrases and images, and were selected for their practicality. Here’s what’s available and how you might use it.

My problem, my solution and poster series and the Lost in the Legal Maze infographic

The four MyLawBC My problem, my solution posters each contain a key tagline, plus social media hashtags and information about the site in general and/or about particular pathways. Social media uses hashtags (#) to group discussion on a certain topic. When talking about MyLawBC on social media, please consider using our hashtags.

These posters are meant for the general public. We’d like to see them up in community organizations across BC. The infographic (Lost in the legal maze?) poster matches well with the maze puzzle pen and wallet card.

Notepads

Using the same images and text as the first four posters, the notepads are intended as a lightweight, practical item. They can be handed out as they are, or as single sheets (which could be used as bookmarks).

Family law infographics

These two posters provide concrete information about aspects of family law and would work well on walls in places people go to get help with family law issues.

All About Mediation: An infographic poster that explains what meditation is, why couples might want to use it to solve their differences instead of going to court, and where to find a mediator.

How Can We Resolve Our Family Law Issues? An infographic poster that sets out information about how to resolve family issues with or without going to court.

Booklet

Coping with Separation Handbook: To help couples deal with the emotional aspects of separation or divorce, how to talk to their friends and family about what’s happening, how to help their children cope, and more.

Other

A fold-over wallet card with information similar to what’s on the Lost in the Legal Maze infographic poster. Meant to be used in situations where space or carrying capacity is limited and/or other promotional items are unavailable.

Maze puzzle pen: Our main promotional piece for the site in general, with the key tagline “Lost in the legal maze?” on one side and the MyLawBC website address on the other. Inside each pen is a maze with little metal balls, challenging you to get the balls from the top to the bottom of the pen and back again. We hope it will get people talking about the site. Please hand out freely for people to take away and help spread the word in their communities.

Stress balls: General promotion for the site, with the key tagline “Lost in the legal maze?” on one side and the website logo and address on the other. For people to take away and help spread the word in their communities. Could be given out with notepads.

Grocery totes: General promotion for the site, with the key tagline “Lost in the legal maze?” on one side and the LSS logo on the other. For people to take away and help spread the word in their communities.

Water bottles: General promotion for the site, with the key tagline “Lost in the legal maze?” and the MyLawBC logo and web address on one side and the LSS logo on the other. Will be handed out as thank-you gifts and prizes.

How to order

From now until the end of December 2016, please order copies of the the Lost in the Legal Maze infographic poster and wallet card from Crown Publications. To order any other promotional materials, please email distribution@lss.bc.ca. Starting in January 2017, all promotional posters, wallet cards, and notepads (but not the general swag) will be available from Crown Publications.

You don’t need a tractor to have a will
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On June 8, 1948, Cecil George Harris lay dying in a field, pinned under a tractor. While help eventually came, he spent nearly 10 hours under that tractor and died in hospital the next day. When Harris left the house that morning, he didn’t have a will, but he soon feared he’d need one. While trapped, he dug out his pen knife and scratched a message into the fender of his tractor:  

In case I die in this mess I leave all to the wife. Cecil Geo Harris

A few days after his death, this message was found. The fender was removed and the court followed through with his impromptu will. You can still see the fender on display at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Law.

Wills written this way are called holographic, or handwritten, wills. They’re not valid in BC (with a few exceptions). That isn’t to say that there isn’t an easy way to write a will in BC.

MyLawBC is our newest website and one of things it does is offers a quick and easy way for you to write a will. Since it was launched earlier this year, almost 2,000 people have used MyLawBC to help write their wills.

The first thing you need to do is to go through the Make a will pathway. This is where the site asks you a series of questions about your situation. It then uses your answers to figure out how it can help you.

If you need a simple will — that’s a basic will that avoids situations like owning a business or property outside of BC — then you’ll be given a Word form template. As you fill out the form, it populates a will with the information you put in. Once you’re done, you’ll have a will that contains all the necessary legal language. All that’s left to do is for you to sign it.

MyLawBC is free to use, so there’s no excuse to wait until you’re under a tractor and absolutely need a will to write one.

Upgrading the Dialogue Tool
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MyLawBC may have launched earlier this summer, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve been resting on our laurels. We’ve been working behind the scenes to make our first round of improvements to the Dialogue Tool. The Dialogue Tool makes writing a fair and lasting separation agreement easy. It does this by helping you set your priorities and find common ground with your spouse, and then it gives you a template and platform to create your legal agreement.

For our first round, we focused on making that easy process even easier; these quality of life improvements will make using the Dialogue Tool a more pleasant experience. The three enhancements just implemented are:

  1. Orientation videos — orientation videos have been integrated into the Dialogue Tool. These will help you learn about the process. You can see one of them below.
  2. Separate chats — each chat are is now tied to the topic of discussion. Before, there was one unified chat area for the entire agreement, but now your messages about parenting are separated from your messages about who keeps the house.
  3. Alerts page — a new Alerts page shows you a list of all the changes that have happened to the agreement and displays a red dot to alert you to new changes. Click the bell at the top of the page to see this page.

With these done, it’s time to look towards our next set of improvements.

Dialogue Tool
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MyLawBC isn’t just pathways. One of the biggest features on the site is the Dialogue Tool. This is a tool that helps you create a separation agreement that addresses your family’s needs. A separation agreement is a document that sets out how you and your spouse have agreed to deal with issues, including problems that may come up in the future. This could include who takes care of the kids, how much support will be paid, what to do about shared property, and other common issues.

The first thing that happens when you start using the Dialogue Tool is that you go through an intake process. Here, you’ll answer a set of questions about yourself, your relationship, and what you think your agreement should look like. Once you’ve finished, your spouse is invited to do the same.

When both of you have answered those questions, the system will compare them and create a template for an agreement based on your answers. You’re able to look at each other’s answers and see how they compare. You might find you aren’t as far apart on some issues as you initially thought.

Next, MyLawBC will give you a platform where you can negotiate with your spouse to come to an agreement. Each section of the Dialogue Tool will cover one important topic. In that section, you’ll be given the basis of a legal agreement for you to customize, the important information you gave in the intake portion, the information and resources you need to make an informed decision, and an area for you to talk with your spouse without having to meet face-to-face.

With those tools, and a little work, you’ll be able to create a fair and lasting separation agreement that works for your family.

Planning for the future
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Having a will is important. We all know it, but many of us don’t have a will. Planning for your own death is uncomfortable; no one likes to think about dying. Despite that, having a will and planning for your future is important. MyLawBC has two different pathways to help you with these decisions. The Make a will pathway helps you create a simple will. It explains the decisions you need to make and what you need to consider for those decisions. Depending on your situation, MyLawBC can also provide you with a form you can fill in to create a valid will. Even if MyLawBC can’t provide a will to fit your needs, it gives you information about what to put in your will and how to get help to complete one.

The Plan for the future pathway covers personal planning. This means planning for a future where you might not be able to act independently; for example, if you got into an accident and fell into a coma. You’ll learn about all the available documents and find out which ones are best for you. This includes the various kinds of powers of attorney and representation agreements. We worked with Nidus on this pathway to make sure you get the best information.

Solving family law problems
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Issues around divorce and separation are some of the most common legal problems that people will experience. On our Family Law in BC website, just the pages about divorce were viewed almost 1.5 million times last year. It’s clear that people who are going through a separation or have gone through one have questions about what the law says and what the impact on their family is going to be. To help with this, MyLawBC has three guided pathways that can help people going through a separation. Make a separation plan helps you figure out the best way for you and your spouse to work through your family matters. When you can’t work together, Get a family order will give you the information you need to get a court order to resolve your issue. Finally, I’ve been served with a court document tells you what to do next once you’ve been served with a court document. Each of these pathways helps you with an aspect of the separation process by analyzing your situation and giving you the information you need to take action.

It’s also important to acknowledge that abusive relationships bring unique considerations to the process of separating. MyLawBC helps to address this with a pathway that helps you reflect on your relationship so that you can recognize the signs of abuse and the impact it could have on your separation. It then helps you create a safety plan and find the support you need to keep you and your family safe.

Welcome to MyLawBC!
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Over the last year, you may have heard whispers about a new project we’ve been working on called MyLawBC. Today we’re happy to announce that MyLawBC has launched and is now ready to be used! What’s the big deal about MyLawBC? It’s a new way of delivering legal information; it’s interactive and focused on giving you information you can act on. Where many other legal websites are like a book, MyLawBC is more like a conversation. You answer a series of questions about your problem and the site creates an action plan for you. This plan covers the information you need to know, the first steps you can take to resolve your problem, the next steps you’ll need to take after that, and where you can get more help.

MyLawBC has information on separation, divorce and family orders, abuse and family violence, missed mortgage payments, and wills and personal planning. Only have a smartphone? No problem! These pathways work just fine on any mobile device.

The Dialogue Tool is another part of MyLawBC that we’re proud of. It helps couples who are splitting up create a fair and lasting separation agreement. It helps you and your spouse identify what’s important to you as you split up and provides you with an online platform and tools to work together on, as well as links to other services that can help, so that you can create a separation agreement you can download and print in the end.

This just scratches the surface; we’ll be talking about more in depth over the next few days. In the meantime, feel free to dive in yourself and see what the site has to offer!

A sneak peek at MyLawBC

We’re happy to offer a sneak peek at what MyLawBC will look like and announce that the site now has an emblem! Since last October, we’ve been working on creating a design and look for MyLawBC that matches our vision. It’s important for any website to have a strong visual identity. After users work their way through MyLawBC, they’ll receive a personalized action plan. We want users to feel that the site is friendly and approachable. This emblem design brings to mind the act of highlighting information that is important specifically to them.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the recent online survey to vote for an emblem. More than 200 people from across BC weighed in. To read more about the decision, and see the MyLawBC site layout for the first time, watch the MyLawBC Development blog video.

International rugby — Innovating justice with the Netherlands
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I’ve never played rugby. I once went to see a Six Nations game in the rain — and drank a mug of Bovril, which sounds weird, but when in Rome (or Scotland) — but I can’t say that I understand the game. I also don’t understand what rugby has to do with software development, but they both have scrums. I recently spent a week in a scrum developing a roadmap for MyLawBC. For the last few months we’ve been working with HiiL, a non-profit in the Netherlands, to develop a new website called MyLawBC. The heart of the site is guided pathways. The basic idea behind guided pathways is that when you come to the site, it will ask you some questions about your problem. Based on your answers, it will diagnose your legal problem and give you an action plan unique to your situation, which will help you take the steps you need to resolve it. Hiil and the Dutch Legal Aid board created a similar site called Rechtwijzer, so we’ve been working with them to learn from their experiences.

Rechtwijzer screengrab
Rechtwijzer screengrab

Two weeks ago, we held a weeklong scrum in our Vancouver office to map out how these guided pathways will work. When you Google “scrum software development” you’ll probably run across a definition that uses the words agile framework, complex projects, and innovative scope. It’s very different from how we normally think and work, and it’s a lot of work, but it gets results.

November scrum

Two folks from HiiL, Jin Ho and Tsvetelina, came to Vancouver to help us conduct the scrums. We had nearly 30 people from all different walks of life helping us develop the tool: lawyers, community workers, other legal organizations, government officials, intermediaries, members of the public, and LSS staff. We worked on pathways for family law and family violence; wills, estates, and life planning; and foreclosure.

We started with the end points, figuring out where we wanted the user to be at the end of the process. For example, if we take divorce, then one of the possible end points could be the person being divorced, happy, and in stable living conditions with a plan for communicating with her ex. From there, it’s a matter of working backwards and figuring out how the user gets to that point and what information, instructions, and resources they need along the way. Sounds easy right?

I spent most of my time working on the foreclosure pathway, which is based on our booklet Can’t Pay Your Mortgage. I thought that it would be easy enough. I mean, there’s really only two outcomes (you keep your house or you lose it), and the court process itself is pretty linear. I was wrong. There are a lot of ways you can get to or be involved in that court process. It was the easiest of all the topics we covered, but that doesn’t mean that it was easy.

The end of that week was unusual. Most of us had spent over 40 hours working only on this and were noticeably tired, but everyone was still excited to keep working on the project. I don’t know if you can be simultaneously burnt-out and keen to keep working, but somehow we were. The pathways were mapped out, but we still wanted something tangible, or at least as tangible as a website can be.

That comes later. Early next year is when the first prototype should be ready and when the fun will really start.

— Nate Prosser, Online Outreach Coordinator