funded by such organizations as the Legal Services Corp., the Judicial Council of California, the Orange County District Attorney and the city of Irvine. Cohen said the LASOC is always writing grants to keep I-CAN! funded.

"The system was created mostly through seed grants, and we recognize that it's a full part of our service system," he said. "We also donate revenues from our lawyers' referral service. We have a three-tier service system: over the phone hotline; self-help, mostly I-CAN!; and in-depth legal services."

Cohen said maintaining I-CAN! isn't a burden because the system doesn't require much staff: One staff person can oversee four people using I-CAN! For these reasons, he said, the LASOC can afford to keep it in the budget.

Microsoft technologies, such as ASP, .NET, Visual Basic, JavaScript, IIS, and SQL Server power I-CAN! The system works on PCs with Internet Explorer 5.5 or greater, and with Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000 and XP.

Judicial Autonomy

I-CAN! gives people the power of legal access.

"It gets them into court where they haven't been before," Tanner said, adding that he wasn't surprised to learn judges are finding that people are more prepared.

Users are no longer appearing before judges with blank stares on their faces. Having used the I-CAN! modules, they come prepared with definitions of legal terms or dates of availability they might need to recall right away.

"Otherwise sometimes, parties just get there and stare at each other and wait for the court to act as their advocate," continued Tanner. "That's not their role."

Eliot Cole  |  Contributing Writer