Ohio Legal Help (OLH) works to remove barriers to the law so that all Ohioans can understand their legal options, make informed decisions and connect to legal and community resources. They are supported by organizations including the Ohio State Bar Association and The Supreme Court of Ohio. The website serves low income people throughout the state, who often can not afford private legal representation.

Capellic has worked on several foundational projects for OLH:

  • The main website design and build that established the new organization and its services and triage system for identifying the type of help users need
  • Major update enabling users to log in and complete and save complex legal forms
  • SMS notifications to remind users of critical steps in legal journeys
  • Specialized pathways for victims of dometic abuse

The Challenge

For the original website build, we realized early that the site needed to function primarily as a “curation engine,” to connect a given user with the relevant documents, forms, and pro bono attorney referrals that would help them. However, each of these handoffs was highly dependent on the individual user’s needs, as well as their given circumstances. For example, we could not refer a young user to a legal resource who only served elderly people. Because the particulars of these handoffs were driven by incredibly complex rules, we could not present this in a traditional “self serve” interface, with faceted search and filters.

In addition, we knew this project had to be more “mobile first” than any website we had ever worked on. Studies had shown that its audience (low income residents of Ohio, in legal jeopardy of some kind) would overwhelmingly access the site through small, older mobile phones.

The Solution

The core of the site is a “mini-quiz” – a guided interface to help users see the resources that are relevant to them. It also features a flexible, powerful rules engine, which allows administrators to associate a given resource with the criteria to surface it. Lastly, while not always easy, we have tested each piece of interactive functionality, and can confirm it works just as well on a 340 pixel-wide phone screen as it does on a 5K iMac.

The Results

OLH continues to rely on Capellic and our partners for ongoing technical strategy and custom development on some of our most ambitious projects to date. We could not be more proud to have them as a client. They shared staggering data about their impact in just the first 8 months of the pandemic:

Since the onset of the pandemic in March through the end of 2020, the site has helped over 270,000 users navigate their COVID-19 legal challenges. Ohioans have taken action to help themselves and their families, including 86,000 with accessing unemployment, 39,000 with preventing eviction and foreclosure, 7,400 with accessing public benefits, and 1,300 seeking help for domestic violence and family abuse. We have also made 70,000 referrals to critical local resources like legal aid, private bar associations, domestic violence shelters, and community action agencies.

Their work continued to be invaluable in 2021. You can read more about the site and OhioLegalHelp’s impact here.