New #JustAdulting app gives teenagers quick legal information
What if you’re caught with an open container of alcohol in your vehicle? How loudly can you play your car radio? What are the penalties if you’re caught texting and driving? Legal issues around employment, landlord-tenant disputes, voting rights, contracts, identity theft, Selective Service requirements, social media harassment—and cars—likely are top of mind among teenagers. By accessing an app rolled out this year by the Florida Bar, they can learn more about such topics.
Called #JustAdulting, the app, produced in partnership with the Florida Law Related Education Association, replaces a paper pamphlet aimed at providing teens with legal information they have to have while they make the transition to adulthood. Bar leaders say the paper pamphlet did not connect well with a generation used to pointing and clicking.
“It’s so much more user-friendly,” says Sheri Hazeltine, chair of the Florida Bar Law Related Education Committee and a Delray Beach-based attorney. “It’s not in pretty literature that you have to go find at the library or in the principal’s office.”
After debating whether to organize the app’s interface alphabetically or to start with the most popular subject matter, the partners decided to do both, with an A-to-Z listing on the left-hand panel of the interface and popular subjects in the middle, says Annette Boyd Pitts, executive director of the Florida Law Related Education Association.
The #JustAdulting app “will be easier to update than a print brochure and can be done much more quickly,” Pitts says. “This is the way to go with this kind of information.”
BEHIND THE SCREEN
Along with the app, the developers created a live presentation, complete with a quiz show that’s been disseminated through the state’s Justice Teaching program. To date, Miami-based attorney Richard Patino and his wife, Jannette, who is the vice president of community outreach for the Patino Law Firm, have visited three high schools in Miami-Dade County.
While such presentations predate the app, the newly rolled out electronic format has made it considerably easier to connect with high school audiences, Jannette Patino says. Richard Patino says the presentation contains questions and answers that students often think they know more precisely than they really do.
“I won’t move on to the answer until I get several answers from the kids,” he says. “If there are no hands being raised, I poke them a little bit. Once a kid gives an answer, half the room starts saying, ‘That’s wrong.’ Why is that wrong? You get a little debate going.”
At the end of the class sessions, the Patinos encourage students to download the app to their phone.
“That’s something they’re impressed with—‘I now have this resource on my phone,’ ” Jannette Patino says. “It’s almost like they have a lawyer at their fingertips.”
Users total well into the thousands already. During the initial rollout in early spring, the app received 29,700 total page views, including 24,000 unique page views, at an average of about 2½ minutes per page, according to analytics provided by Pitts.
Other state bar associations have inquired about how they might develop a similar app, and the developers made a presentation on #JustAdulting in Savannah, Georgia, at a National Association of Bar Executives meeting on Oct. 20. The app also received a national award at the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco in August.
“Most bars have similar kinds of materials, a brochure or booklet on becoming an adult,” Pitts says. “We’re just trying to bring it into their world more closely through this digital resource.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: "Swipe for the Right Advice: New app gives teenagers quick legal information."