March 14, 2019
People’s Law School is issuing a request for proposals (RFP) to develop a chatbot to help British Columbians deal with everyday legal problems. This initiative flows from our commitment to provide British Columbians with legal information that is suited to their needs and empowers them to take action. It also reflects the potential we see in using innovative technology to make justice more accessible.
Research we conducted as part of taking over and modernizing Dial-A-Law pointed to two technology trends that have the potential to transform the way people get information: the widespread popularity of texting and messaging, and the rapid growth of chatbots to help with everyday tasks, whether it be to find out the weather forecast, place a phone call, or book an airline ticket — or ask a legal question.
Our focus is to apply these technologies to help the public get the legal information that applies to their situation. When faced with a legal problem, two-thirds of Canadians either handle it on their own or take no action. Many turn to the web. While there is a growing body of free legal information at hand (including our sites), it is challenging for people to apply the information available to their own situation. In the words of one self-represented litigant:
“One of the greatest challenges people experience in accessing justice is translating the legal information available into the context of their own situation.”
Our ultimate vision behind this RFP is a free service available through multiple channels (such as web, text, phone, etc.) that responds intelligently and helpfully to questions from people in British Columbia on everyday legal problems.
We invite interested vendors to submit a proposal. The closing date for proposals is June 10, 2019 at 5 pm PDT.