Online Legal Self-Help in Boston

MADE is an online tool to let tenants produce eviction pleadings if they are facing a lawsuit. It helps replace a 4 hour clinic that a legal aid group runs to help tenants respond to evictions.

Massachusetts Defense for Eviction (MADE) is an online software tool from Greater Boston Legal Services, that lets tenants create the legal documents necessary to respond to an eviction lawsuit.

Project Details

What is the project?

MADE is a completely self-guided online, mobile-friendly tool for tenants that helps them produce defensive eviction pleadings to file in court. It helps replace a 4 hour clinic that GBLS has run for many years, aimed at preparing tenants for representing themselves.

What does it produce?

The tool produces pleadings that are comprehensive, and include an answer, counterclaims, and discovery, as well as 5 related motions. A tenant can complete the process in as little as 20 minutes, with most tenants taking about 45 minutes. The questions are simple to answer and incremental.

Goals of the Project

Massachusetts has strong tenant rights, but very few tenants who exercise them. Someone who uses MADE is educated about their rights in the eviction process with videos and explanation aimed at a 6th-8th grade reading level.

Getting tenants more time + choices

One benefit that each tenant gets is a two-week extension of their first court appearance, and a higher chance of obtaining a lawyer.

Connecting tenants to services

MADE also generates an electronic referral for tenants in the GBLS service area.

Producing court-acceptable documents

The neatly typed and concise pleadings are widely accepted by the Massachusetts court.

Use of the tool

The MADE tool was adopted quickly by court-based self-help centers. It was also used to speed up clinics at legal aid providers.

As of February 2020, 200 people each month complete and print out pleadings using MADE, a substantial fraction of the approximately 10,000 eviction cases filed each year in Massachusetts.

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