Minor legal infractions from the past can have major consequences in the present when they appear in public records, keeping some individuals from obtaining gainful employment.
A unique new app called Legal Tune Up is designed to help Wisconsin residents address that problem. It enables them to access public data to identify legal issues — issues they might not even be aware of — and then resolve those issues on their own.
The app was developed by LIFT Dane, a social justice collaboration created to improve the financial well-being of residents of Dane County, Wisconsin.
It was designed and built by Theory and Principle, a legal technology product design and development firm based in Portland, Maine.
In its initial launch, the app enables users to see if they have past eviction or criminal records on Wisconsin’s online public records database that are eligible for removal.
If so, the app automates creation and filing of the appropriate paperwork with the court to request removal (including sending the paperwork by regular mail).
Updates in the coming months will enable users to deal with drivers license suspensions, child support modifications, federal criminal records, and more.
A study published in June in the Harvard Law Review by Michigan Law professors J.J. Prescott and Sonja B. Starr found that individuals who obtain expungement of criminal records see sharp upturns in their wage and employment trajectories, with an average 22% increase in earnings within a year.
LIFT Dane is a collaboration among the Economic Justice Institute, Legal Action of Wisconsin, the Center for Patient Partnerships and the Employment And Training Association (EATA) of Dane County.
It is directed by Marsha Mansfield, distinguished clinical professor emerita and former director of the University of Wisconsin Law School’s Economic Justice Institute.