Legal Services Corporation
Board Of Directors
Provision For The Delivery Of Legal
Friday, January 30, 2004
The Melrose Hotel
2430 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
COMMITTEE MEMBERS PRESENT:
David Hall, Chair
Maria Luisa Mercado
Florentino A. Subia
Michael D. McKay
Frank B. Strickland, (ex-officio)
OTHER BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT:
Thomas A. Fuentes
Robert J. Dieter
Herbert S. Garten
STAFF AND PUBLIC PRESENT:
Helaine M. Barnett, President
Randi Youells, Vice President for Programs
Patricia Hanrahan, Special Counsel to the Vice President for Programs
Michael Genz, Director, Office of Program Performance
C O N T E N T S
|P A G E|
|Approval of agenda.||5|
|Approval of the minutes of the Committee's meeting of November 21, 2003.||5|
|Presentations on Quality in Legal Services:|
|Consider and act on other business.||99|
Consider and act on adjournment of meeting.
|MOTIONS:||4, 5, 109|
P R O C E E D I N G S
MR. HALL: I would like to call to order the Provisions Committee meeting, and want to welcome our committee members, Mercado, Subia, and McKay, and to also welcome our new president, Helaine Barnett, to the Provisions Committee, and also welcome other board members who are sitting in and participating with us, and certainly all of our guests, especially those who are going to be coming before us.
I would first ask that there be an approval of the agenda for today's meeting.
M O T I O N
MS. MERCADO: So moved.
MR. SUBIA: Second.
MR. HALL: All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
MR. HALL: Thank you.
Also, the minutes of our last meeting, our November 23rd meeting, are under Attachment B in our materials.
I would ask if there is a motion to approve those minutes.
M O T I O N
MS. MERCADO: So moved.
MR. HALL: Is there a second?
MR. SUBIA: Second.
MR. HALL: All in favor?
(A chorus of ayes.)
MR. HALL: Thank you.
We will now move to the substance of today's committee meeting.
As you may recall from our last meeting, we indicated that we were going to, the Provisions Committee was going to focus on the issue of quality, and one might ask why that item has risen to the top of the agenda of this particular committee, and I want to share a few comments about that before turning the floor over to our first presenter, Randi Youells.
I think myself and other members of the committee felt that after having been briefed on the whole state planning process and the effects that that had on the various offices, and the organization in general, that one of the things that we wanted to make sure of is that this restructuring and this reconfiguration was enhancing our ability to provide quality legal services to the people that we are asked to serve, and I think also at the essence of that is this belief that our mission specifically requires us to focus on this issue of quality, because just providing legal assistance is not enough.
We have to ensure that the services that we are providing really reach a high level and a level that is commensurate with the type of services that other individuals who can pay are receiving, because if we're not addressing that particular issue, then we really aren't addressing the integrity, the equality, and the legitimacy that the legal profession should ensure.
So from the perspective of the committee, we really have to zero in on this, because it goes to the core of our mission, and so what we're trying to explore, and hope that this session will begin to lead us toward, is a better understanding of how do we measure quality, when do we know we have it right, and when do we feel we're off the mark, and how do we go about assessing that.
So we thought, again, in the spirit of how the state planning process was done, that instead of launching off with some standards and guidelines developed in isolation, that we should hear from individuals who have been thinking about this issue, and thus use that as a basis for moving us forward.
So from my perspective, there's a two-part aspect to these presentations and this discussion. That is, how do we go about defining what quality means, and also, how do we better assess and measure that; and with the assistance of Vice President Randi Youells, who is going to lead this discussion, I think we have been able to identify some individuals who will come before us and share some insights on both aspects of that particular question.
So we will start out by asking Randi to give us some insights into the framework in regards to this. Randi.
MS. YOUELLS: Thank you, Chairman Hall, and good afternoon members of the LSC Board of Directors.
I would like to take this moment, however, to just congratulate you on the selection of a wonderful president in President Barnett.
The program side of the house could not have been more delighted, and we think you made an excellent choice. We believe she will be good to guide our discussions in the future as we pursue a quality agenda.
This afternoon, we are going to kick off our conversations on a national conversation on quality that we hope will take place all year, by introducing you to four different perspectives on quality and four different opinion leaders or national leaders in the legal services community who will begin, I think, to introduce you to some of the questions that we ask when we ask about quality in legal services programs.
There won't be a lot of answers, or at least I hope there won't be a lot of answers today, because I share with Chairman Hall the feeling that the answers are something that this committee has to help us arrive at in the coming year, but what I have asked our four panel members to address, include questions like, how do you define quality within a legal services program?
If you are not in the role of being a provider of legal services, if, for example, you are a funder, do you have a different perspective on quality, and do you have different standards that you look at?
If you are a direct provider of legal services, how do you bring quality home? How do you make sure that all levels of your organization have a quality agenda and understand that the effective delivery of high-quality legal services is our most important mission.
How do you measure quality? Is it tied to outcomes? Should we begin to measure outcomes for the work we do for our clients, or can we measure it another way, and if we can measure it another way, what are those measurement tools we should be using?
How do we bring younger people who are entering legal services for the first time into the legal services community and give them the appropriate training and role modeling that they will need in order to be the high-quality leaders of our future?
So those are all questions I hope we will begin to discuss today.
You have four wonderful people to help you answer those questions, and let me just briefly go through them, and then I'll let them take the stage.
The first speaker will be Jeanne Charn. Jeanne has become, since I went with her to an international conference several years ago, one of my closest friends and a person who thinks a lot about the delivery of legal services in the United States.
She runs the legal clinic at Harvard Law School, where she lectures at Harvard Law School, and she has both the perspective of a person who delivers legal services using students, as well as a person who evaluates legal services and tries to move us down the road a little further to a high-quality legal services delivery system.
Our next person is going to be Lillian Johnson, who comes from the field, and Lillian has been here, around legal services, for a very long period of time, has delivered legal services in several programs, has worked at LSC, but she will be talking about how you bring quality home when you bring it down to the programmatic level, and how you make sure that everyone is working together to deliver the most effective legal services they can deliver.
Our third speaker is Alan Houseman who probably doesn't take an introduction to many of you. Alan is a long-time legal services person, also worked at LSC himself in, I believe, the '80s, and currently is with the Center for Law and Social Policy.
He is also a person who gives a lot of thought to quality within the legal services community, and will have some ideas for you about what you can do as you go forward.
Our fourth speaker is Colline Meek, who runs Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, a state-wide provider of Native American legal services to all the tribes in Oklahoma, and she will talk about how you bring quality home when you're dealing with such a diverse clientele, people who have special needs, and you're covering the entire state and you don't have enough money.
I think at the end of the day we'll have more questions that we will want to ask in the future and will want to give some thought to who else should come and talk to you about quality, but this is a good start, and we should consider it the beginning, and not the end of the conversation.
MR. HALL: Thank you.
MS. CHARN: Thank you, David, my fellow Bostonian.
It's great to have friends, and I have a friend in Frank Strickland, who I met this summer when we were fortunate enough to have him at the -- we hosted the International Legal Aid Group Conference, and Frank attended.
Fifteen minutes is not a long time to talk about this, and I'll try and be strict about the time, and given there's a small amount of time and this is a complicated subject, I'll err on the side of being provocative, because that will maybe get some discussion going. Maybe what I have to say won't be so provocative.
I think assuring quality in any human service is a complicated business, and it's as complicated for us as for anyone else, but I'm not sure that it's any more complicated for us than anyone else.
I think you can do a quality assessment and have quality standards and quality processes around any type or mode of service delivery, whether you're dealing with hot lines, assisted pro se, advice only, information only, or represented cases.
I try to think about quality in all of those areas, and the program that I direct does many of those things, but I'm going to talk today just about thinking about quality in represented cases.
I think that quality is at risk, not because of individuals, not because of, necessarily, bad decisions, although those can play a role, but because of systemic features that are involved in delivering legal services to low-income people with, we can say, inadequate resources, but we'll always have limited resources, we'll always have to have a high sensitivity to cost effectiveness in what we do, because there's never really enough.
We have a real stewardship obligation we the resources that we have on behalf of the poor, so there's an efficiency dimension, a productivity dimension, and a quality outcome dimension -- those three pieces.
We started the Legal Services Center at Harvard Law School 25 years ago, my husband and I, Gary Bellow, and Gary had mapped out what became, in legal services circles, a controversial article called "Turning Solutions into Problems," which in 1978 claimed there were quality problems, they were systemically motivated, and we needed to do something about it.
So we had an analysis, we had money, we started, we were going to do it right, and I would say in about four years, we had reproduced many of the things we critiqued, so it was humbling, and we then had to dig out of, just like any other program that got itself where we did, a situation that had been created, routines that had been established and then needed to be shaken up, and I think that we made some progress in doing it.
So what I say comes from that experience, in a legal aid office. We started out serving the same clients that legal services offices do. We're now funded almost entirely by Harvard Law School.
We serve a broader income range, up to about 300 percent of poverty. We have a co-payment system where clients actually pay in some areas for legal services.
So there are some things that are different, but basically, we're delivering service. We're interested in meeting the kinds of needs that low-income people have from the legal system.
So here are the bullet points based on now 20-some years of experience in practicing in and directing a legal service office, university based and with lots of students, but a legal service office that I think is more similar than different.
One, I think that quality is definable, discussable, and to some extent measurable. Ultimate quality -- is it the very best in any context?
You have to get so down to the micro level that the expense of going past earlier thresholds is probably not worth it, but our experience is that there is useful information, there are useful indicators, the concepts of indicators of quality in an area where you're going to do a lot of cases. You can understand quality in the areas where you're doing a lot of cases.
If you're doing one or two cases, and that's your universe, you're going to know much less about quality, because what you see is what emerges in patterns over time.
So I believe that you can find indicators of quality. This is just in terms of thinking about outcomes.
There's a wide literature in the management field about process inputs, about the customer satisfaction perspective, and I believe those are all relevant to quality.
That is, you want an office where clients don't sit and wait for four hours to be told that they're not going to be served. That's bad quality.
But you also want an office where the outcomes that you're getting in the cases that you take are very good.
In addition to that, you want the number of cases you do at a high level of quality to not be trivial in number, but to be as many as can be effectively done for the dollar put in, so you want efficiency and cost effectiveness, and want to get as many of them done at that level of quality as possible. That is, you want volume.
So there are more, but all of those pieces are relevant to quality, and I believe that, on all of them, you can gather information, get indicators that will give you enough information to begin to see the contours of the practice that you're working in.
So on information, I love information. We gather it systematically. I have learned that you can have too much information, because you simply can't manage, can't crush it, can't digest it.
So there's a key piece about what are the important indicators, a lot of analogies to this in public health work.
If you look at the rankings of HMOs, they seem very banal and basic, but I've talked to a lot of medical people and, you know, just plain "What preventive health work is being done," they become standards, they become things that are attended to, so you can start not with the Cadillac version, but with the Chevrolet version, and build on it.
So I think the important thing is to put quality on the agenda, create a pervasive attentiveness to it in an office, and move from there.
Now, more bullets.
I think that quality and quantity are not at odds with each other.
My experience has been, and I could talk more about this, that when we began to get real information on what we're producing in every unit every year -- real productivity in that year, not closing cases that had actually been finished two years before but nobody did the administrative closing, what was our product for this year -- that the highest producers in my office were also the best producers. Very often, the best quantity came with the best quality.
That's because those people had learned their craft, had a protocol that worked, and they could now focus on reaching clients, reaching them effectively. They are also the people who have the fewest client complaints.
So the idea is that pieces of quality reinforce each other, that in certain domains, quantity and quality are not inconsistent.
You can push too hard on quantity and degrade quality, but you can push too little on quantity and not get quality because you don't have an advocate who has experienced enough, learned enough, or has mastered their craft enough to really be able to produce at a higher level.
This runs at odds with ideas of professionalism. Quality is about the individual, their commitment, their talents, their expertise, their professional development, but I think it's more about systems, and this is being learned in medicine -- tough profession.
Among surgeons, real individuals, real prima donnas -- at Harvard Law School, we don't know anything about prima donnas. So trust me, I know about prima donnas. The prima donna, the notion of the unusually gifted professional, I think is not the way.
I believe that a bad system within inadequate resources, with who knows who's in the front room, with bad data, without a good case management system, is more apt to drag down the most gifted lawyer than a system that's very good will lift up someone who by themselves would be adequate, to make them really quite good, better than you would think, because there are supports, there are checks and balances, you're not fighting your own case management system, you're not fighting that you never get a decent message, you're not fighting that you don't have the research and other tools that you need, and when those things are in place, there are no excuses, also.
You can say, "You know what? The resources are here, the support is here, you need extra training, we'll get it. Now, the responsibility is on you to perform."
The other piece is that I think quality has a strong peer dimension. We need the support, honest critical input of peers, and I find -- we learned this in our teaching as well as in the center -- that people, over time, they don't like to be criticized, but they will learn to take criticism.
What they really don't like to do is to give honest criticism, and the criticism that helps you the most is not, "What a great job you did," it's, "Boy, why did you do that? I wouldn't have done it that way. I would have done it this way."
So because we're a training center, we've instituted those sorts of critiques to teach our students, and then Gary and I insisted that if we were going to ask it of our students, we had to model it ourselves," so we've instituted our own internal system of borrowing on medical rounds, peer review and critique.
When we have a bad outcome, we want to have an M&M session. What happened? Why did it go that way? How could we do better? Did we screw up? Was it a tough case?
And when we get something that's outside the norm of good, we want to know, how did we do that? Was it a fluke? Did everything just fall into place? Were the stars aligned? Or can we now institutionalize that next best area of practice?
So I think it's about systems. It's about peers. It's about teamwork. It needs strong management.
One of the mistakes that Gary and I made when we started was we thought we could inspire our colleagues to simply do well, that good hearts, good -- those are essential, but I believe you need strong management and you need accountability, and whatever the, we're going to help you, we'll support you, everybody can do well, sooner or later someone has to make an assessment, and we went through this process.
We had people that I thought were performing weakly. We documented what they did. We did extensive case file reviews. We had tons of information. We set goals.
And I was, I think, too generous. We went two, three years with staff, and if they didn't get better at some point, we had to say, "This isn't working."
You know, that's the part about stewardship of resources. I have these resources. They're here to serve clients. They're here to educate our students. If we're not producing, if one person isn't producing, that's a bad stewardship of the resources.
And I have to say that there are people who left our program, under encouragement or by request. We helped them get other positions.
For the most part, they were in the wrong job. They cared about clients, they cared about what we did, but they were not front-line service providers.
It's a tough, complicated, demanding career, and they needed to do a different kind of tough, demanding job, and virtually every one of them is in a great position different than where they were.
I don't want to say I did it to do them a favor. I did it because we needed to do it.
So the issue, we can't just be about helping, although we should be. We can't just be about good systems. In the end, there has to be an element of accountability and assessment.
We're looking for incentives. We have a merit-based pay system now, so we have some financial incentives.
I think we're weak on other kinds of incentives. Recognition incentives are very important for professionals, because we don't have promotional incentives.
High-level professional service organizations have flat pyramids. You string together a bunch of doctors, you string together a bunch of lawyers, but there are only a few management positions.
This is not a corporate style world where there's a ladder to climb that reinforces, to we have to find substitutes for the affirmative performance recognition pieces that we can't derive through promotion.
I do think we make terrible mistakes in legal services in promoting the best practitioner to the manager, because it's the only thing we can promote them to, and the best practitioner is not always the best manager, by far. Happens in medicine, happens in teaching, happens lots of places, so we have to pay attention to management as a special craft.
The last thing I'll say -- I'm sure I've gone over -- is I've talked mainly about a provider perspective in an office, but I think that a quality agenda requires an LSC, a funder role.
I think we suffered because we had a basically internally driven agenda. Now, that's not quite accurate. My husband and I were the connections to the funding to this.
Harvard Law School funded Gary and I, not everybody else in the office, and we came to use that in the sense of, "Look, we're either good, we're a quality program, our students anonymously review our work, Harvard expects us to be good."
Not everybody liked what we did there. Harvard wasn't the easiest place to build this kind of program, but Harvard is the place where they might not like what you do, but damn, it better be good, because they can stomach it if it's go od, but if they don't like it and it isn't good, forget about it, you're going to lose your resources. And that was true. We weren't bluffing.
So that created a kind of external accountability that didn't let us sit back and drop this agenda, and it's very easy, and it's very human, and it's very natural to do that, and the role of a funder is partly -- in a not-for-profit world, there is no market accountability. The customer has got noplace else to go.
We don't offer choices of which provider to go to in an area. We basically have territorially funded programs.
So you've got to have substitutes in the not-for-profit world for what are sometimes the crude, but their accountability systems of the market.
If you got a good nobody wants to buy, and you're depending on customers coming to your diner or buying your product, and nobody buys, you're out of business.
But not-for-profits can put out a weak product year after year after year, and after all, it's free, and after all, there's no other game in town, and after all, it's professional services, so how do you know what's really good?
And we serve clients who don't necessarily come to us with high expectations. People who are excluded and marginalized, if they're just treated nicely, may feel that they got a lot; and in fact, they deserve more, and there's no way even of knowing it.
So we need substitutes. We need to be tough on ourselves, a strong sense of stewardship, but there needs to be an external source of accountability, and I think that's a role that you can play, tough role, because you need trust from the provider to the funder, and those who hold you accountable are people that you don't always trust.
So I think you build trust through experience. You can say you're trustworthy, and it's important to say that and to make commitments, but then you've got to deliver on it and make it work, and in some ways learn to live with the tension.
I'll just close with, I had a friend -- I teach a course in delivery of legal services, and I one year had about 80 students at Harvard really interested in making civil legal services more available in the class.
I had two doctor friends of mine who had come to visit. They sat in the back of the room, and it was the class on quality.
What they picked up by the end of the class was, they just, their mouths -- they almost raised their hand in class and said, "You should have" -- they said, "Do you mean in law big firms, legal services, nothing, you aren't reviewed regularly by accrediting bodies? Do you know what it's like at Children's Hospital in Chicago where I work? When the accreditors come in, that place is turned upside down. We chart our files, we" -- and she said, "You know, it makes us nervous, we gripe about it, we bitch about it, but it's good for us, because you know what? Those periodic reevaluations and assessments keep us on our toes, and as long as we have some confidence that what they're looking for really is about good service, about us doing our best, and we have pride."
This is a famous -- it's like Children's Hospital in Boston, they think they're the best, but they want that validation from someone that they really are the best.
So I think that's the challenge in legal services, is to create this funder-provider partnership and make it work, because I don't believe that every program by itself, every one of them, will effectively embrace and be able to manage this agenda, not because it's hard to do, because you need information, because you need guidance.
And I could tell you, at Harvard, one of the things that was helpful was we had access to management consultants. Harvard had them. They provide them for all their managers. We were one of those.
So we did have access to resources. That was a different piece in our funding setting that helped us do the things that we did, and those are the kinds of things that you can provide and offer.
So with the accountability comes making sure the resources are there to do it right, making sure they're in place, and then saying to your programs, "Okay, you've got the stuff, we'll give you the help, we'll work with you on the smarts, you got time to make it happen, but we want to see it happen, and we're also going to hold your feet to the fire on it, in the best way, because we all care about this and we all want it to happen."
So thank you very much.
MR. HALL: Thank you. Before you leave, let's see if there are any questions.
MS. CHARN: Oh, sure.
MR. McKAY: I'm interested -- thanks for your presentation, it's very helpful, and as Randi, as Ms. Youells pointed out, we're going to come away with more questions than answers.
But I'm wondering -- and you did a good job presenting a lot of questions.
MS. CHARN: That was the idea.
MR. McKAY: Mission accomplished.
But I'm interested. You say you do have a merit-based pay program. What criteria do you apply in determining who receives merit pay?
MS. CHARN: We have a pretty extensive performance evaluation system that works off an instrument. We have a scoring system for your performance levels.
So it's got categories, depending. Our staff are specialized. So a piece covers their practice ability and experience, a piece covers their teaching supervisory experience. We have a section for contributions to the office, team spirit, you're a good colleague.
Because I'll tell you, in an organization, one toxic person -- there's a whole management literature on it.
So you can't just be talented, you've also got to make the institution better and not divert our resources to managing you. So you are scored on that.
We have qualitative and quantitative goals for each person.
We fill out these evaluations every year, everybody knows they're coming. We have a case closing, we have a two-month evaluation process.
We have a pool to spend, and the unit managers and I spend a day to make sure we've got parity and equity, what criteria we're using, and we have a bonus and three salary choices.
We're in Harvard's system, but we have been outside of it. We had negotiated ourself outside the merit pay system, like the faculty, by the way. They're not on merit pay, they just get steps, but everybody else at Harvard is on a merit pay system.
I actually did not want this to begin with. I was, "Equal is better," and I have to say that I prefer a merit pay system.
So we do it from data, and I insist that the staff discriminate against, because you could divide your pool pretty equally, but that's not the point of it. If you're not going to make distinctions, then don't claim you're going to make distinctions.
MR. GARTEN: Why do you say, what do you mean by saying quality runs against professionalism?
MS. CHARN: Well, the ideals of professionalism of course incorporate quality, but there are aspects of a professional identity -- for instance, way back when we first started reviewing files in our office, and there are some ABA and other opinions on this, when we were reviewing an individual attorney's files, they would say, "What do you mean? I'm a professional. They're my files."
That is, there is a bit of a notion in the professional paradigm that, "I am accountable only to myself and God," or whoever, and in a way, a professional is accountable to their own judgment.
So some aspects of professionalism resist the idea of management of systems. Professionalism can suggest that we train you so rigorously -- that's why we put you through law school, why we put you through residencies -- that you should never make mistakes.
But people make mistakes, and if a profession doesn't own that its practitioners can make mistakes, they're more likely to make more.
There's a very nice book called Forgive and Remember, a Study of Medical Failure, that was written some years ago and has been reissued, and medicine is beginning to see that the notion that the doctor is God because they've been so thoroughly trained, it's in that sense that I mean that the concept or culture of professionalism I think can run aground, or can run in the face of a systemic and managerial dimension of assuring quality, and what you want is a balance between the two.
Professionals aren't, you know, assembly line workers. On the other hand, I don't think, really -- I'm not in favor, and this might be controversial, of saying once you're trained, once you got your degree, we don't worry about you, that means you're competent, you're good, you can do the job well.
That's not been my experience that that is enough, to say this person is really good, they do a good job.
So it's in that sense that I mean it.
MR. HALL: Okay, one last question, because we do need to get over to our other speakers.
MS. MERCADO: Yes, it's sort of a question and a statement, actually, as regards the role of a funder, which we as the Legal Services Corporation, along with Congress, are.
Some of the comments that you made actually reminded me that when I first began as a legal aid lawyer that system was in place, and it was in place because we had regional offices --
MS. CHARN: Yes.
MS. MERCADO: -- we had a corporate headquarters that if not on a yearly basis, at least every other year, would go to all the grantees to make sure that their systems, their case management, that their lawyers had the skills and if they didn't have the skills, that the regional offices provided that, or the states provided that.
So in effect, we had a system that allowed for the quality assurance of the people that were hired to do the work, to deliver services to poor people, in fact had the skills, at least a minimum standard of skills --
MS. CHARN: Right.
MS. MERCADO: -- and to make sure that you didn't have dead cases, that everything was accounted for, that that scarce dollar that you had was being used to the maximum.
But when a lot of that got taken away, and the funding got cut even more so, the Office of Program and Performance, which used to do that on a regular basis to all the grantees, has sort of relegated itself to doing emergency or, you know --
MS. CHARN: If you look only at the problems as opposed to trying to build the system --
MS. MERCADO: Exactly.
MS. CHARN: -- and you're probably going to lose the system, you might be better to live with the problems and build the system if you want to have payoff down the road.
I'm from that era. My first work in legal services was in 1968 as a student, and then I was in a staff, and I remember, it was different, the program was smaller.
On the other hand, I don't think the total investment in this at the time -- I knew those folks who started the program, and I think they cared about it, but so many things happened that it got lost along the way.
It was a good start, and it somehow didn't evolve in the way that it should.
So I think it's a challenge for a board in this era to really think along those lines again.
MS. MERCADO: But what my followup comment to that was, I guess, since we just finished Finance Committee a little while ago, is that part of sort of our obligation or role as a board --
MS. CHARN: Yes.
MS. MERCADO: -- is to look at all those different parameters of what a delivery of legal services to poor people means, and that one piece of it means that, that we train and we make sure that our people in the field have that constant, whether it's a supervision or a training, or making sure that we are doing the most effective delivery of legal services.
But unfortunately, with the current funding that you have, that's not going to happen, and so when we're looking at pieces for future projections for, you know, your mark for three years from now, or five years from now, whatever, that those are some of the pieces that you can, according to Mr. Fuentes, quality or justify that it's needed in order to make sure that we do provide quality legal services.
MR. HALL: Thank you. Thank you, Jeanne --
MS. CHARN: Thank you.
MR. HALL: -- very much, appreciate your thorough presentation.
Lillian Johnson, please. Welcome.
MS. JOHNSON: Thank you, Chairman Hall, members of the board of directors. I'm the other Lillian, Lillian Johnson.
As Randi mentioned to you, my background is, and I recall her saying a long time in legal services, but that's true, and I'm very proud of that, that I've spent my entire professional career as a legal services lawyer, and I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to share with you my perspective with regard to quality in legal services.
When I was first asked, I dutifully asked colleagues from around the country what kind of advice they would give me in terms of raising issues or providing information to the committee, and the advice that I decided to take was to use your heart, your knowledge, and your experience, and remember you only have 15 minutes.
MS. JOHNSON: So, moving with my heart, let me tell you that from the legal services community's perspective, and particularly from a typical legal services organization's perspective, it's all about the clients.
Our mission is wound, it's founded, it's all about the clients, the low-income client community that we serve, and the criteria that we use to determine whether or not our programs are operating in a quality, a high-quality manner, are really the same criteria that the Legal Services Corporation used in its infinite wisdom, and worked with the American Bar Association and other individuals and groups who are responsible for not only working to develop legal services and federally funded legal services, but also to really deal with the problem that legal services was intended to address, and that is that the low-income client community does not have access to our civil justice system, and that it is our responsibility to make sure that throughout the United States and its territories, that access is available through legal services programs.
So that the criteria was first and foremost whether or not a program is effective in identifying and targeting its resources toward the most pressing legal needs of the client community that they are funded to serve;
Two, whether or not they're effective, the program is effective in engaging and including and serving the client community;
Third, whether or not there is effective legal representation and other activities designed specifically to meet the needs of the client community going on in the program; and
Fourth, whether or not there exist effective and efficient administration and governance of the program.
And superimposed on that, the values that we all hold dear, and one, that there is a commitment to equal access, regardless to race, gender, ability to communicate effectively in English, whatever the case may be, that there is a value of diversity and of common respect for humanity involved in the program's operation.
When you bring that down to a program level, quality is something that you will know, but it may vary in terms of how you're able to measure and determine it, and that's because all of our communities, all of our states, and all of our territories are different.
The makeup of our client communities varies by virtue of the freedom that we have in America to travel and the ability on the part of Americans to be able to go in and out of states and jurisdictions without impediments, and as a result, the client community will vary, so that there has to be a clear indication that the program has engaged the client community in helping to identify what are the most critical legal needs, and taking into account also what is already available in the community, and then understanding and appreciating that it is their responsibility to be a high-performing law firm that supports the provision of equal access to our justice system in whatever community they operate.
That's not the easiest process, and it's always being changed in every quality program community that I've had the opportunity to visit or to interact with their leaders.
Secondly, including the client community on an ongoing basis.
We're not done with our job, if we are committed to quality, by just identifying by whatever means what are the most pressing legal needs of the client community, but engaging, continuing to engage the client community in helping to provide service to them, identifying what are the kinds of legal problems that are affecting their ability to really have a quality of life that we've promised that all Americans should have.
And then, third, we're also constantly concerned about the quality of the legal practice. We are providing a very unique service in all of our communities.
We are, and I'm always happy to be able to tell a potential funder, we are a nonprofit law firm, and proud of it, because our goal is to serve our clients, and not to seek to gain profit for our shareholders, and our profession is one steeped in ethics and a commitment to zealous representation of our clients.
So when we're able to really build on systems that ensure that we recruit, we train, and we actually support and maintain high-quality advocates, and give them the ability, by virtue of creating an environment where they can work and be supported to actually engage in high-quality, zealous representation of the low-income client community, then we have determined that we are engaging in high-quality representation and are able to support having said that we are a quality program.
And then, of course, there is the task of effective administration and governance, and that's one of the most critical things that is involved in maintaining a quality legal services program.
When funders look at a nonprofit for potential funding decisions, while they are happy to look at reports, they are interested, of course, in all the kinds of indicators that suggest that an organization is performing on a high-quality level, they are most interested in the board of directors.
They are interested in whether or not the board of directors is both knowledgeable about and supportive of the program, and engaged in actual governance of the program, so that that is something that we value, as well, as legal services programs.
It is our responsibility to maintain a diverse and responsive and engaged board of directors who helps to support the program and all the myriad of activities that it must be involved in in order to ensure high-quality legal representation to our low-income client community.
Finally, and this is what I thought about when I recognized that you were going to want to ask me whether or not Community Legal Services, the organization, the organization that I've had the privilege to be the director of for the past 20 years, whether or not I thought it was a high-quality legal services program.
I thought about that, and I think that we are a quality legal services program, aspiring to be the highest quality legal program in this country, and knowing you and those that you have engaged to work with and consult with, I think we have the best chance if you are, as you appear to be, willing to continue to have these kinds of discussions and to ask for these kinds of dialogues with the providers, with the staff who are actually engaged in providing high-quality legal services, you will come up with the appropriate guidelines and aspirations, and we will work together to try and accomplish that throughout the country.
I want to add, even if I am going over just a little bit, in terms of the issue of quality and how to get there, I recently read a very short book by Spencer Johnson, the one who wrote Who Moved My Cheese?
Well, his newest book is called, The Present, and what I got out of that took that I thought would be helpful advice to you is that in order to achieve nirvana, or in this case, the highest quality, I invite you to first look at the present. What is actually happening throughout legal services, throughout all of the providers in the country?
Then, second, review the past, look at it from a critical basis, an objective basis, but definitely review the past.
Then, third, plan, based upon all of that, for a better future.
Thank you so much.
MR. HALL: Any questions?
MR. DIETER: This might catch you unprepared, but they talked about peer reviews being important.
How much would one, a peer review visit, cost, what would it look like? Have you ever done one? What, you know, what do you think?
MS. JOHNSON: Well, actually, it's a great question for me.
One of the things that we're doing at Community Legal Services is that we just completed the strategic plan for 2004 to 2006, and one of the key elements of our strategic plan is for Community Legal Services to have an evaluation of the program, and it is a strategic plan that includes our board and our staff and all of us, so that we are amassing information that would include peer review.
But yes, I've had the privilege to participate on peer reviews, and I can tell you that peer reviews are the most difficult for a program or an advocate, because a peer review is usually accomplished by someone who is familiar with both the opportunities and the obstacles with regard to the program, and therefore, you know, you can't give them much crap. You have to be pretty open and prepared to actually be critically evaluated.
But what it involves in terms of our amassing a budget for that purpose was identifying the number of people that would be involved in it, and what would they be asked to review, and then being able to identify a cost. That is, how long would they be there.
What we have come up with is $6,000 for the peer review process. That is, the on-site review that will include other legal services advocates coming into our program and reviewing, the cost to have them travel and their stay.
MR. DIETER: How many people is that?
MS. JOHNSON: We have identified seven.
MR. DIETER: Seven?
MS. JOHNSON: We are a multi-county program, and if you are familiar at all with the Southwest, you could fit a lot of Eastern communities into the Arizona territories, so that it's a great distance.
We have a very diverse client community and seven offices, and we also serve the migrant farmworker community.
So our expectation is that it would take five days on site of seven individuals, and the cost for that, that was allocated for that, is $6,000.
That does not include the cost of paying the people who are there any consulting fees. That's only the cost of actually getting them there and housing them during the duration.
We did not begin to think about what it would cost us to prepare for that and to be engaged.
That's part of a smaller committee, that includes both the board and our staff, who will come up with that and actually present it to our board in our summer meeting, which would be May, our annual meeting, and the board would approve it, and it is expected that it would take place before December 31st of 2004.
I hope that helps.
MR. DIETER: Yeah, that gives me some idea.
Another thing is, suppose that we came up with, say, a five-point scoring plan, or approach, that was based on whether or not you're achieving goals that we work with you to set, and would be realistic goals.
Maybe it's, you know, you raise, the program raised $10,000 from private sources last year. We think -- you know, what do you think you could do? Can you go to 15, or 12, or maybe just 11? But in order to get a 5, you have to achieve that criteria, and we did that in a number of ways.
What would be your reaction, as a grantee, to that kind of --
MS. JOHNSON: Well, it's probably a little different, because that's what our strategic plan does.
We actually have those kinds of goals and objectives, and we actually have a matrix, and the people are identified who are responsible for achieving that, and one of them is increasing the resources that we have available to deliver services in our community from sources other than the state and LSC.
So they're realistic, but they are also goals that require us to do stretching, so that it's not -- we don't see a $1 million funding source and then say -- you know, in the horizon -- and then say, "This is our goal."
So that wouldn't -- that would be challenging, but that would be appropriate.
What I would recommend, though, is that again, you'd have to take the programs in all areas of the country, their client community, and all of that into account.
But I think that building on the criteria that was already established by LSC some time ago, when it began an evaluation process, I think that you could identify, really, sort of the criteria that you would whether expect a program would undergo review for, and ways that they could either provide you with indicators that they were working effectively to achieve a goal.
One of the things that I think that the community has learned over the years is that we're not all alike, and so what is a goal, and an appropriate goal, for one program may not be one for another.
An example would be if a program exists in a community where the only civil legal services available is the LSC-funded program, that's a very different environment than a program that exists where there are several other nonprofits who are providing, or other ways that they can get those particular needs met.
MR. HALL: I think you may have answered my question in your last comment, but you emphasized early on in your presentation just how diverse the various organizations were, from territory to state, et cetera, and to client population.
Initially, I was taking from that that that may be pointing to a direction of staying away from broad standards by which you measure people, because of all of that diversity, but I guess what I'm hearing you saying is that, as long as those standards are flexible enough to take into account the diversity that exists within the various client communities or territories, et cetera, that that's still an appropriate way of proceeding. Is that correct?
MS. JOHNSON: That's correct.
MR. HALL: Okay.
MS. MERCADO: Just to Mr. Dieter's comment about what you envision as far as a budget and a team of people, and that there are already some standards and criteria that were set, you know, some time ago or some years ago, and again, because of budgeting problems, it hasn't been done as often, but the team would include attorneys, paralegals, clerical staff, I mean, to see whether or not you're meeting whatever the particular standards it is that they're looking at, more of a monitoring peer review, assisting to provide additional skills and foresight for that particular organization, given, if you're talking about a rural area, how you deal with those issues versus an urban, you know, setting, neighborhood offices, that is a little bit different, but that some of the skills can be somewhat standardized as opposed to something else.
So there are some components that can be standards and others that cannot, but it does require additional funding, by its nature.
MS. JOHNSON: And I'd just like to, just in your comment or your question, it's just really important that peer is included.
MR. DIETER: Well, I really meant peer as being sort of within the grantee -- not us being involved, really, in sort of that kind of a review --
MS. JOHNSON: That's exactly what I thought you meant.
MR. DIETER: The other question about the scoring or whatever really is more something where, you know, in theory we work with a program and review what they've done, and work with them on goals of trying to improve that program, because there's got to be -- you know, there's 160 grantees. There's got to be a range of gradation in there.
And it would be important, I think, to try to, you know, improve in the areas where we can improve, and set realistic goals for people to try to achieve and, as you say, stretch, push, that sort of thing, to improve services.
MR. HALL: Thank you very much --
MS. JOHNSON: Thank you.
MR. HALL: -- for a wonderful presentation.
MS. JOHNSON: Thank you.
MR. HOUSEMAN: I mentioned to David earlier that I was going to make some reference to some materials, so I'm handing them out, since I'm not using an overhead or the powerpoint.
Also, in addition to these materials, and I'm going to actually point to some of them in a minute, in your board book, I tried to provide some background materials that I'll also make reference to, but not discuss in any depth.
One is a history of LSC efforts over the years on evaluation and monitoring for quality, not for compliance.
Secondly, there is an article about program known evaluation which has in it a discussion of a number of different activities of programs that are addressed to improving quality.
Third, I included, which I think I included in earlier materials, but I wanted to make sure you had it, the study we had done of the hotlines, which raises some interesting questions.
And finally, I included an old gem, just to let you know that this issue has been around for a number of years, an old gem by Gerry Singsen on high-quality representation, from 1983.
The e-mails that I received asked me to address three questions, actually four -- three, four questions. Maybe I'm taking this too literally, but I'm going to try to address these questions.
They were: What is a high-quality legal services program? How can quality be measured, promoted, and attained? What is the role of assessment in identifying and encouraging quality? And the e-mails also asked me to provide information about past practices.
Before addressing these specific questions, and I'm going to, I just want to try to differentiate briefly, and focus actually on one part of this.
When we talk about quality, I want to differentiate between several different levels here, and I'm only going to talk at length about one. Jeanne talked about the other at some length.
There's the level of quality of work produced by individual staff members and advocates. Then there's the quality of the overall legal services program. Those are really somewhat different concepts.
Finally, there's the quality of the state delivery system, or put it this way, the statewide comprehensive delivery systems that we've been trying to create, and we're moving towards creating in every state, and that's a different set of quality issues. These all interrelate, of course.
I'm going to focus at the program level, not the individual level, primarily, though some of what I say is about that, and I first want to talk about how one would look at a program level before I define what a good program is. I could do it the other way, but I'm going to start here.
I want to pick up on what Lillian said, and I want to -- if you look in the materials I handed out after the cover page, the first page is a listing of seven criteria including the four that Lillian mentioned, which come out of, the first four come out of the LSC performance measures.
I don't know if you've all read this or seen this. There is in existence today, it's used in grant applications and in some of the visits that OPP personnel make, there's a set of very detailed performance criteria that LSC has developed. I actually was involved in developing this, in the mid-'90s.
And that set of criteria goes beyond, because it extends into other areas, it goes beyond the ABA standards of providers of legal services for the poor, which were developed in 1986.
I have enclosed at Tab 3 in your materials, because I'm not sure you've seen these, the ABA standards.
Now, this is just the black letter standards. There's also extensive commentary. The whole thing was, you know, 300 pages long, so I didn't give you that. I just gave you the standards, which the performance criteria of LSC incorporate.
I do want to note just one thing. The performance criteria talk about effectiveness as well as high quality, and I think that's very deliberate, as one of the drafters of them, and I think it's very important, because the LSC Act not only talks about high quality, but effective and economical delivery of service.
Based on more recent experience in achieving a high-quality legal services program since the performance criteria were developed -- they were developed in 1992 -- I would add several more to them. Whether they would be incorporated as separate in a document, I'm not saying, but the concepts I'm talking about, and those are 5, 6, and 7.
That is, effectiveness in determine what objectives a program is trying to achieve, and in measuring results of its strategies to achieve those objectives; effectiveness in innovation and experimentation in the delivery of legal assistance; and given the state planning process, effectiveness in participating in and helping achieve a comprehensive, integrated statewide system of delivery.
I think those are, in fact, the framework that one should think about when one thinks about programs.
I would not set out the effective use of technology as a separate area for considering program quality, because I believe technology provides tools to help achieve all of the above seven areas of program performance.
However, I do want to stress, and I think I noted it there, that it's essential for a high-quality legal services program to use advancing technologies to educate and assist clients, help achieve client objectives, inform and assist advocates to provide a higher quality of service, and achieve overall program objectives.
The second page of your handouts is -- and I'm not going to spend any time on this -- at the individual staff level, we could also describe a number of functions and qualities.
Jeanne talked at great length about legal representation.
There is, of course, brief advice, brief service, which is a predominant part of the practice in legal services, whether it's through hotlines or in staff programs, whatever.
There's also the issue of quality of community legal education and outreach; the quality of self-help activities; the quality of supervision of staff and legal management of the substantive work of an office or a program unit; the quality in carrying out specific projects, like a community legal education project or a welfare-to-work project as some programs do; and the quality in providing training or other support activities by those staff that do it.
So that's a second dimension of quality on the program level.
Finally, of course, we can examine how to measure, promote, assess, and attain high quality in the states' overall system of comprehensive, integrated delivery of civil legal assistance. Considerable progress has been made on that front through state planning and the state planning evaluation instrument, and I won't focus there.
Now, let me return to what I understood to be my challenge.
How would I define a high-quality legal services program? Well, your third page is my definition.
A high-quality program effectively carries out those seven areas of performance that I outlined above. It's advocates produce legal work of consistent quality to accomplish the goals of clients and the program, and to meet the standards of the profession.
The program has a clear sense of purpose, which is understood and accepted by program staff. It also has effective leadership to carry out and oversee the seven areas of performance.
And by far the most controversial point, I'm sure, the program incorporates ongoing evaluation of all aspects of its work and develops and implements program improvement systems regardless of encouragement or direction from LSC or other funders.
To, to me, is a high-quality legal services program.
Now, buried in that is, of course, a huge amount of material and a huge amount of information, but to directly answer the question that I was told I was to answer, that's how I would define it.
When we go to the next question, how do we promote, attain, assess, and measure high quality, then I need to put some perspective on this, and Lillian helped greatly in her remarks.
The next page in your handout contains the short version of the context remarks, and the next two pages after that I'm going to make some reference to.
First, our civil legal aid system, unlike those in virtually all other advanced democracies, is a highly decentralized system to provide grants to independent providers who then set their own substantive and functional priorities.
As a result, civil legal aid programs are not all alike. They have widely different priorities and case mixtures.
Some do considerable consumer work, and others do none. Some have substantial emphasis on housing, while others have a substantial emphasis on public benefits.
In addition, they emphasize different functions. Some primarily or substantially utilize hotlines and advice and brief service systems; others emphasize extended representation in court and before administrative agencies; and some do all of those functions.
Second, funding differs considerably among programs and between states. The back of that first tab is a color chart that shows how funding is currently developed, and you'll see the white states are mostly primarily LSC funded. Remember, LSC funding is equal across the country.
The white states are virtually all LSC funded. That's the South and Southwest, with the exception of Colorado.
The red states have 70 percent or more of their funding from non-LSC sources. Massachusetts, for example, has 85 percent of its funding from non-LSC sources.
And the other states, the blue states, are between 50 and 70 percent.
In addition to the fact that funding is unequal, another way of looking at it is the page before that in your materials. You will see a chart that reflects the funding levels by state now, not by program, of various states.
I included all of the states of the board members. I included the states of the presenters here today. And I included the two lowest states, the two highest states.
You'll see there's a tremendous difference in money available in programs across the country.
Third, the legal framework differs among states. The laws affecting key poverty law issues differ.
For example, in some states, landlord-tenant law provides a warranty of habitability and affirmative defenses to an eviction. In other states, neither of these are available to an advocate or a tenant. Thus, what can be accomplished for a tenant will vary, depending on what rights a tenant has.
In addition, there are differences in how courts and administrative adjudicatory agencies operate, and in the quality of their decisions. This, too, affects what can be done by a civil legal aid provider.
Finally, as noted in the background materials in your book, my first piece in your book about the history, there are a number of funders that are significantly involved in activities to ensure high-quality legal services programs. Some do extensive peer review evaluations of programs. Others are promoting program-owned evaluations through toolkits, training, and technical assistance.
And in fact, Tab 2 in your book is an example -- it's not the whole thing, because the whole thing is about 500 pages long -- it's a summary, Tab 2, of the evaluation toolkit that's being used in California that was recently developed there, and if you follow the web framework there, you will get to the whole toolkit.
Still others are using outcome measures to help improve programs.
The point of that is that in formulating and implementing an effort to promote, measure, assess, and attain high-quality legal services, the committee and LSC must be willing to work with other key funders, particularly state IOLTA program and other civil legal assistance funders.
In addition, in deciding what to do, LSC, I think, should provide sufficient flexibility for programs to meet the requirements of other funders such as IOLTA or United Way.
Now I want to focus a bit on promoting and attaining high-quality legal services programs.
If we go back to, I think, Page 4 of 5 in your materials, you will see that I've laid out how I think LSC could promote high-quality legal services, promote, and I think maybe help attain. I'm going to talk a little bit about peer review in a second, though.
I've laid out at least four things that I think LSC could be doing:
Funding and overseeing the development of templates and models, tools, and options to assist recipients to set their own goals, measure the results of specific program efforts, undertake program-owned evaluations of those efforts, and constantly improve quality and effectiveness;
Funding and overseeing development of best practice guides on how to meet the performance criteria that I discussed earlier;
Funding and providing training of program managers on various approaches to program quality that have been successful and how to use various templates, models, et cetera;
Funding and arranging for on-site technical assistance by peers and LSC staff to assist programs in implementing their own systems to measure and improve quality.
This agenda builds on the ongoing work summarized in your board book to stimulate program-owned evaluations. That's the second article in the board book. It also builds upon the ground-breaking work in California, that I made reference to a second ago, through the Legal Aid Association in creating the evaluation toolkit.
As a national funder, LSC has the capacity to develop model approaches that would stimulate creative local program efforts to develop ways to improve program management and to increase program quality and effectiveness.
By encouraging local programs to adopt their own approaches to measuring quality, LSC will avoid the necessity of creating national recordkeeping and documentation requirements.
Moreover, I think if you proceed by this approach, quality improvement will be perceived by the legal services community as a collaborative effort by LSC, other funders, and programs, and that that's the direction you want it to go in.
Now, let me make a few remarks about measuring and assessing high-quality, and then I'm almost done. Here I echo both what Lillian said and what Jeanne said.
The conventional wisdom among evaluations, whether in the civil legal aid context or generally, whether in the U.S. or abroad, is that the most effective way to measure and assess quality is through peer review. I agree with this conventional wisdom.
I have seen nothing in the literature either about civil legal aid evaluations or other human services evaluations, of which I actually know quite a bit, that would suggest that there is a good substitute for peer review.
On the individual advocate level, peer review is the most effective way to determine whether an advocate, supervisor, or manager is providing high quality in the work that he or she does, and Jeanne and others have talked about this, so I won't spend any more time on it.
I do want to mention, obviously, peer review can be combined with benchmarks, outcomes measures, and other strategies to evaluate individual performance, but some form of peer review remains essential.
On the program level, peer review by other program managers and advocates from other civil legal aid or related programs is shown to be the most effective evaluation mechanism in both legal services and other human services programs.
As noted in the background paper, the first one in your book, in 1992 and 1993, LSC developed the performance criteria and a peer review system to use those criteria to review and evaluate LSC-funded programs. It actually put together a site manual, it put together a whole plan to have peer review periodically with every program.
Why didn't it go forward? Well, congressional pressure on LSC forced it to focus on compliance monitoring, and LSC never fully implemented this system. I think it's time to consider how, in a much different context of today, such a system should be put in place and effectively implemented.
In my view, the first step is to reconsider and augment the performance criteria that were originally developed by LSC, to which I've been making reference and Lillian made reference.
These need to be revised to take into account that high-quality programs determine objectives and measures results, engage in innovation and experimentation, and participate in and help achieve a comprehensive integrated system of delivery.
They must also take into account the changes in delivery that have evolved, such as hotlines, web sites, kiosks, and others, as well as -- and I agree completely with Lillian here -- as well as the demographics of our client community, which has changed and is changing more.
Because these performance criteria are being used by evaluations by some IOLTA programs and other funders, because they are essential to promoting high-quality legal services, I would revise and augment the performance criteria through a broad, participatory process that would involve as partners IOLTA, other major funders, and NLADA and the ABA.
The second step would be to pick up where we left off in 1994 and develop a peer review evaluation system that systematically reviews the overall work of each program over a three-to-five-year cycle.
Taking into account that LSC is not the only major funder -- In a number of states, LSC is not the primary funder of civil legal assistance -- it would seem to me that any such peer review evaluation system should be designed and developed in partnership with other funders so that it is owned by the stakeholders in addition to LSC.
This would ensure that a system of peer review would continue even if LSC is no longer in a position to participate in such evaluations in such future date. That, of course, is based on history.
Best practices across the country. The article in the book lays out a whole slew of best practices. I won't repeat what's there. I'm not sure any of you have had a chance to read it. I don't know when you got your board book. But the article by the five authors does lay out a whole set of activities that are going on.
There are a number of other efforts that aren't mentioned there. I was interested in the concept that Jeanne raised about performance review.
Well, let me just raise two other things to try to respond to this question of best practice across the country, but there are many more.
Several programs, including Colorado Legal Services, have developed case handler standards, based in part on the ABA standards. Here's Colorado Legal Services' case handler standards. You're welcome to look at this if anybody would like.
They are very detailed descriptions of what case handlers must do to carry out their responsibilities, and implicit in this, and explicit, is a system review of whether case handlers are carrying those out.
Another example is the performance review system that has been used in Columbia Legal Services to ensure that every advocate performs to the best of their ability on behalf of program clients. This was the system that is used by Columbia now, was used by its predecessor, Evergreen Legal Services, and I also have that here, if anybody would like to review it.
It also has very detailed standards and criteria, and a very complex performance review system that both Columbia and Northwest Justice Project use in evaluating people.
Let me end by saying I urge you to hear from several key people who have been evaluating legal services programs around the country, which I have not, and who have considerable expertise in helping programs achieve high quality.
I think if I were you, I would want to hear from John Tull, who has evaluated more legal services programs than anyone else, who developed the LSC peer review system, who was a significant consultant to development of the California evaluation toolkit project, who used to run what Randi now runs.
I think you should hear from IOLTA program directors who have used evaluation and other approaches.
Finally, as Lillian indicated, you should hear from other program people. I would start by looking at the program-owned evaluation article.
There are a number of different programs that are discussed in that, and there are also people who have done performance reviews, like Colorado Legal Services or Evergreen Legal Services.
I think that once you hear from this range of people, I think we can and you will develop an effective quality approach to move us down this quality line and a quality agenda -- the phrase that I used when I first spoke to you in September.
Thank you very much.
MR. HALL: Thank you.
Questions for Alan?
MS. MERCADO: Not questions, but I wonder if our staff could give the board each a copy of the Colorado and the Evergreen program performance, so we sort of have a broader view in looking at some possible standards that we could look at? You wouldn't mind sharing --
MR. HOUSEMAN: No, of course.
MR. HALL: I would echo that. I think we should try to make sure we get some copies of those.
MR. HOUSEMAN: Sure.
MR. HALL: Other questions or comments?
MR. GARTEN: What were the reasons behind abandoning moving ahead LSC in 1994, as you've set forth?
MR. HOUSEMAN: Well, the primary reason was -- and this was a pre-Gingrich Congress, I want to be clear about this -- the primary reason was Democrats in the House members on the Appropriations Committee were worried that LSC was not focusing enough attention on monitoring for compliance and was moving into a peer review for quality that did not focus on compliance, and fairly substantially, essentially said, "Don't go down this route. Beef up your compliance monitoring, and don't divert resources into this peer review quality system" -- that they were trying to put in place. That's essentially what happened.
I was involved with it. I was at the hearings. I was working behind the scenes on it. That's what happened.
MR. GARTEN: Would there be any change in that position that was held at that time, as of today?
MR. HOUSEMAN: I think there's -- well, I think that was a period that was pre-Gingrich, and I say that just to differentiate in time, so that we don't think this was all 1996 stuff. That was a period when LSC had not developed the strong kind of bipartisan framework that I think it has now.
So I think we're in a new era, in some ways, and I think there's going to be much more receptivity in Congress to moving in part on quality improvement efforts than there was in the past, at least in the past in the '90s.
So I think we are in a slightly new era, but I don't want to overstate that. I think most people in Congress would still see compliance monitoring as central to the function of LSC.
I want to say one other thing on this, which is relevant to your question. Most people in Congress don't think there's a quality problem in legal services. They think legal services is highly effective and efficient.
The charge against legal services has been that it's doing the wrong kind of cases for the wrong kind of people, and it's doing kinds of cases that it shouldn't be doing, but there's never been any serious contention that its quality was poor.
But I do think, as the chair said, we have to return to a quality agenda, and we should, and we can, and I think the environment is possible to proceed -- slowly, carefully, but I think we can proceed.
MR. DIETER: In looking at the materials and the criteria, you don't have a specific criteria here that says, "Example Number 8, you know, complies with congressional restrictions," or, you know, "meets program restrictions," or --
MR. HOUSEMAN: Actually, that's buried. If you look, the problem with this is, you got to look at the performance measures. The LSC performance measures have within them the notion that you have to comply with the law. That's inside the measures on both administration and governance, the fourth performance measure.
So it's not like it's ignored. I didn't highlight it, because it's in there. There's many, many things in there. I didn't have a chance to go through all of them.
MR. HALL: Thank you, Alan.
MR. HOUSEMAN: Yeah.
MR. HALL: Colline Meeks. Our final presenter alleges that I was her professor 20 years ago at the University of Oklahoma, but I think that was my father.
MR. HALL: But welcome.
MS. MEEKS: Thank you.
MR. HALL: Glad to have a former student.
MR. McKAY: How did his father do?
MS. MEEKS: He was great.
Well, thank you for inviting me today. I'm so honored to be here.
I come from Oklahoma. I'm an Oklahoma Indian, and I've been in legal services for 15 years now. I come from a background of 12 years as a staff attorney at Oklahoma Indian Legal Services, and I've been the director there now for three years.
So we came from a point where we were very poorly funded for reasons I won't go into, to a point about the time I became director where we had some increase in funding and found some new resources, and so we had the funding to do the kinds of things that we would like to do.
I want to give you a little bit of historical perspective on Oklahoma, just briefly, and how our organization fits into the statewide justice community in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has 39 Indian tribes and probably only two or three of them are actually indigenous to Oklahoma.
Oklahoma was the removal state when tribes came from east of the Mississippi -- the Cherokees, the Five Civilized Tribes. The United States, through treaties and other mechanisms, removed them into the state of Oklahoma. The western tribes were also moved there. That's why there's 39 tribes in Oklahoma.
At one point early on in Oklahoma history, the entire nation, I mean the entire state, with the exception of the panhandle, was a reservation.
So we have a lot of diversity among the tribes, a lot of cultural diversity within the Indian community there.
Most of the tribes have their own tribal courts, their own sets of codes and laws, and that's the niche that we try and fill.
In addition to those tribal courts and tribal laws, there's a whole level of federal laws that apply to Indians and that do not apply to other minority groups, because Indians are considered to have a political status, and it's not just a racial status, and consequently there can be these varying laws that vary among tribe to tribe on the federal level, because being a tribal members is a unique political status.
So Oklahoma Indian Legal Services was actually spun off of the basic field services, because there was this niche to fill where you really have to have specialized practitioners to become familiar with all the various types of laws and tribal courts in the state, so that's why we were there, and we've grown considerably in the last three years because of increase in funding sources.
It's interesting that you wanted to talk about quality assurance, because my board just, you know, at our last board meeting, had asked me, "How do we know that you guys are providing quality services, other than just taking your word for it?"
So I've been giving this some thought, and what I feel like in my philosophy is, if you hire the right people, and you give them the tools they need to do their job, then that is what provides pretty much an assurance of quality, and it's those two things that I try and focus on, and those are in some ways the same standards for quality assurance that the American Bar Association has put forth, and those are the standards that I try to utilize in my day-to-day management of the firm, and we do consider ourselves an Indian law firm that is funded by various sources.
The first, the characteristics of your personnel that you hire:
I think what we look for is a commitment to serving poor people in general. A lot of times you want to look for things like being in a clinical internship at school through the pro bono programs that law schools put on.
We also look for a particular commitment to Indian law in particular, and in Oklahoma, there's quite a few practitioners that want to focus on that particular area of law, those types of things.
I don't necessarily look for the highest grades in the class, but things like being on the Indian Law Review, and in interviews making sure that the attorneys that come on board truly have a passion for this type of work, because if they don't, they'll be gone in a year.
It isn't just the level of pay that sparks their interest, because you're never going to make the money in legal services that you do in other, private sources, but you really have to have a commitment and a passion for this type of work.
The tools that they need to do the type of services that we do are primarily technological type tools.
The things that have really revolutionized our practice in our office -- and we're kind of latecomers to all of this, because we were historically so poorly funded -- are case management systems.
There are several good ones that are available, computerized case management systems, where I can look on a day-to-day basis and see what cases my attorneys have that may be -- I can see, with just the touch of a button, how many hours, or if a case hasn't been worked on in a certain length of time.
We have kind of a case review system where every three months all of the attorneys' cases are reviewed on an individual basis, and it speeds the process very much to have the computerized case management system to evaluate each attorney's work.
Three of the attorneys at our office have over 15 years' experience, individually, in Indian law and in legal services. They're assigned to do case reviews, in addition to myself, in their areas of expertise.
We have one that's a general litigation manager and an attorney that supervises the court facilitator project, which is our pro se project in tribal court. It's pro se assistance, and paralegals do that under the supervision of the attorney that's assigned to that. He reviews those cases that come back from the court facilitator project on a daily basis.
The assignment of cases and workload is determined on each individual attorney's level of experience, but most of our attorneys, three of our attorneys are over 15 years of experience and three of them are less than five, so the less than five practitioners get a lower caseload, and they're always supervised by the more experienced attorneys.
The standards for the ABA also reflect a responsibility for the conduct of the representation. In our community in Oklahoma, it's a small community of practitioners and judges that are in the tribal courts; and even in the state, it's primarily a rural population with urban areas in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
But pretty much the bar and the Indian court bar know each other, so there is always a way to find out if somebody is not doing well on a case or needs a particular type of training.
We have supplied our attorneys with cell phones and laptop computers, portable printers. We use the various tribal court headquarters to set up like virtual offices, because we don't have any branch offices except for one in Ada, Oklahoma, which primarily does our domestic violence unit, is in that area.
So we travel, kind of circuit ride to all the Native American communities, because it's a large population, but it's spread out over the entire state, so you don't have a critical mass here or there to justify putting an office.
The quality of the work, I think, is something we've always focused on. It is a particular kind of law that you need to develop expertise in over years. So we haven't really had a retention problem or a hiring problem, but one of the things we have implemented is student loan repayment assistance programs with increase in funding.
Rather than hire as many attorneys that I could, we felt that it was more productive to keep the attorneys that had this expertise within our organization, so we instituted the loan repayment assistance plans.
And at the other end of the spectrum, we've introduced a retirement plan. It's primarily -- neither one of them are adequately funded, but at least it's a start.
We provide -- one thing we look at is, in our case reviews with each attorney, is to go over any training that they might need or they're deficient in, and one of the areas that, just because of the type of law we do, is litigation.
We don't have a lot of, you know, really intensive litigation cases, but we do have them occasionally, and so litigation training is something that we all go to about once a year. The University of Oklahoma puts on one, and National Institute of Trial Advocates puts on a good one, too.
We also have paralegals that can actually practice in tribal court, that are supervised by the supervising attorneys there.
We also provide, try and provide the research resources that our attorneys need to do their job. We have Internet access at all the attorneys' work stations. Our library -- we have access to West Law and then a couple of good law libraries within easy access.
One thing that I might mention, and I think that everybody has mentioned this, is there really is no substitute for the peer review system of LSC coming to monitor the individual programs and getting to know your program counsel and the program counsel making an effort to get to know the directors.
We went through a period of time where we probably almost got -- our funding was at one point in jeopardy, and it was the -- we've had four monitoring visits in the last, since 2000.
Now, I started at OILS in 1989. I recall one visit in about 1990, and then for a period of 10 years, we didn't see anybody from Legal Services Corporation. It was when we almost lost our funding that Legal Services Corporation began -- they came in and they really helped us build our program, and really saved the program.
I think a lot of programs look at the monitors as the enemy or something, but I didn't find that experience to be that way at all.
They were very, very helpful in providing the technical assistance, and we would usually have a program counsel or somebody from Office of Compliance Enforcement, and an additional consultant that was more of a peer review, where they had experience in Indian law programs in some other state. There would be a panel of three people coming to visit our program. We've had four in the last four years. I think that we're probably finished for a while.
I'm not suggesting that everybody could be monitored up to that level, but I don't think there's any substitute for the peer review process or some of the monitoring visits that LSC makes. They were very helpful, and in addition to compliance with the LSC regs, we got technical assistance from them on using the case management systems, and they were very helpful.
So that's pretty much my perspective from a manager's and a staff attorney, at one point, for 12 years. If you hire the right people and you give them the tools they need to do the job, and periodically, you know, evaluate them, they're going to do a good job.
MR. HALL: Thank you. Questions?
MR. DIETER: What percentage of your funding is provided by us?
MS. MEEKS: About 75 percent now, and we get Violence Against Women funding, IOLTA funding, and we're operating a low-income tax clinic which the IRS funds, and we do those in tribal jurisdictions. Those clinics are open to non-Indians, but we target that Indian population.
MR. HALL: Just one point of clarification. The review that you've been going through recently, which you feel really helped save the program, that, it appears to me, was something initiated by LSC because of what was going on.
Was the peer component of that a part of the LSC monitoring, that is, that they, when they came to your program, brought with them other individuals who were familiar with Native American programs?
MS. MEEKS: Yes. Yes, they would bring in a consultant that had experience with Native American programs.
MR. HALL: Okay. All right.
The second question is that I think you have made a point of emphasizing the attorneys' commitment to serving the client, and I read into that not just providing the technical service, but also really caring for the client and treating them with dignity, respect, et cetera.
MS. MEEKS: Absolutely.
MR. HALL: How do you measure that? I mean, how do you capture that, and --
MS. MEEKS: I don't think you can quantify it and measure it. It's just not something that's amenable to that kind of measurement.
You just have to -- I mean, you can look at things in their background. Did they come from an impoverished background? Did they do clinical pro bono work in law school? That sort of thing indicates to me that they do have some sort of commitment to serving poor people --
MR. HALL: Yeah.
MS. MEEKS: -- and then in our program, Indians, in particular.
MR. HALL: Yeah. Well, I guess what I'm getting at is not so much how do you measure that before you make the hire --
MS. MEEKS: Right.
MR. HALL: -- that is, when you're interviewing people, but it seemed like one of the things we should keep in mind as we're looking at all of these standards is not just is the person successful in court and is there no delay in the person, you know, the client having to wait before they get attention, but do the clients feel like they're being treated like human beings, being cared for. That's that intangible component of quality, as well.
MS. MEEKS: I think it's not just attorneys that have to have those characteristics.
MR. HALL: I agree.
MS. MEEKS: It's your entire staff, from the receptionist to the paralegal to the person that does the intakes, to -- everybody has to have that kind of attitude.
MR. HALL: Is there something that you do to send that message to people in your organization, that that's essential, and you're going to be --
MS. MEEKS: Well, I think I'm really lucky now, that the staff is just -- our staff is so wonderful right now. In the past I've had to talk to people about their attitude on the phone, or -- and those people generally leave at some point.
I don't know how you would quantify a person's commitment or sensitivity to clients, other than just taking feedback from the other office staff, feedback from the community.
People will call me that I've -- as I said, I was a staff attorney for 12 years, and I know a lot of the people in the community. They don't hesitate to call me if there's a problem of something of that nature.
I know a lot of the people that I worked with when I was a staff attorney out in the field wouldn't hesitate to call me if there was something of that nature going on, but right now, that isn't a problem. They all are committed and have a great sensitivity to Indians and poor people.
Many of the -- most of our staff are members of Indian tribes and come from backgrounds that are similar to our clients.
MR. HALL: Okay. Thank you. Other questions from any of the board members?
MR. HALL: Thank you very much.
MS. MEEKS: Thank you.
MR. HALL: I guess by way of summary, before we move to the other items on the Provisions Committee agenda, I first again want to thank all of our presenters for providing us with excellent presentations, and some diverse perspectives on this issue, which I think is very important for us to have.
We stated in the beginning that this session would probably raise more questions for us than providing answers, but I think we got both, and I appreciate the concrete analysis that people have provided.
Again, I really believe that this is an item that has to stay on our agenda, and with a new president on board, I certainly believe the committee needs to consult and have some conversations with her about what are the next steps in keeping this agenda going, because it is fundamental and it's clear that we need to move in a collaborative way.
We've been given the names of other individuals who we may want to consult with or hear from, and I think we need to figure out how we go about doing that.
So that's my perspective. If any of the other committee members have some particular views about next steps of keeping this idea moving, we certainly can share those.
My hope is that at a certain point in time, that the staff, after having heard from the various sources, would be able to come back and share with us how we proceed. Do we already have the standards in place, or do they need to be refined? Is peer review something that we need to move forward with, and if so, you know how would we do that? I think all of those are valid and pressing issues for us to look at.
But if any other members of the committee or the other board members would like to add to that?
MR. FUENTES: David, I'd like to just seek a little brainstorming here with Jeanne Charn, if I may, and maybe you'd like to come to the microphone so we could talk for a moment.
MS. CHARN: Sure.
MR. FUENTES: I was intrigued by the nature of the development of your program, and what I interpret as somewhat two sides to the involvement, one the academic, one the provision of services.
And I'm wondering, if the board at some point had an interest in contracting out to seek a development of a quality control evaluation program, are there in place academics at Harvard that would be available for that sort of a program, that sort of an undertaking?
Is there a team or a department or a structure in place presently?
MS. CHARN: In the university or at the law school or in our shop?
MR. FUENTES: Well, maybe it becomes a combination of all three to get the benefit of all of this experience.
MS. CHARN: I mean, we certainly have a structure at the center.
And one, I would say that you would -- I've offered this before. I mean, one of the things that I want to -- Harvard puts a lot of money into our program, and way beyond -- they're paying for service, so that their students can be trained, but our philosophy has always been that the service and learning were so intertwined that you couldn't even cost them out, and that students learn best in a realistic service setting, so we had both sides going.
I also think that the students make a significant contribution to the volume and quality of service if the supervisors and the systems are strong.
So we're there. That money is partly justified, because the idea is we should be transparent, and of assistance to anybody who would be interested in what we're doing; so it would be welcome on that front.
There are a number of projects that we're working on now that involve some interdisciplinary work. We have done some work with health care providers, both in delivery projects and in getting their sense of how they quality assess.
I would actually encourage you to not just look within law, but to look at some of the people who are working on quality in health care, some controversially, some more mainstream.
And in the management and business and commercial field, there is work that's very customer oriented, which -- in the end, you can't quite get at where someone's heart is, David, but I think there are some indicia, and people do good customer satisfaction surveys and focus groups, so you can get some information.
But there is material and interest out there, but we would be thrilled to have an opportunity to be useful in anything that you might do.
MR. FUENTES: Thank you.
MR. DIETER: Before you leave, you said that you represent clients up to 300 percent of poverty guidelines.
MS. CHARN: Right.
MR. DIETER: Do you know roughly what percent of your clients --
MS. CHARN: Most of our clients are under 200 percent, probably under 150 percent, but we do some. We do a small business practice. We're doing community enterprise. We're doing a lot of homeowners.
We're doing a lot of work right now on mortgage foreclosure prevention around push credit and what's termed predatory lending, and some of those people are low-wage workers who would be above guidelines.
We bring in $140,000 a year in client fees and co-payments.
MR. DIETER: I mean, you take fee-generating cases?
MS. CHARN: Only ones that the private bar wouldn't take. We do have some fee-generating -- well, we charge a co-payment for our work, but there are cases that -- we've done a number of them -- where the input, say, to develop the area -- 15 years ago, 20 years ago, we did the first asymptomatic lead paint poisoning case and got a $40,000 settlement. We couldn't get a private attorney to touch the case.
And I would guess that -- Gary did that case -- he probably earned 15 bucks an hour, because of the time it took to develop it.
Once we developed the claim, we exported the practice, and a boutique practice kind of arose in Massachusetts, and we didn't need to provide, in effect, our subsidized legal services, because once you did a few cases and it was clear that there was work there, and you had a protocol for doing the cases, and you got the experts, the private bar did them.
So where we're doing that kind of work, it's mainly because the private bar is not interested, doesn't see that they can do it on any remunerative basis.
And sometimes there's an R&D dimension to development, where someone is going to spend disproportionately with the potential return, but once you've got that going, you can then -- it's a great way to make legal services available. You turn it into something that can actually be well done by the market, and then you don't have a subsidy, but you need the subsidy to develop the practice. So we've done a little bit of that.
MR. HALL: Any other comments?
MR. HALL: Again, thanks to all of our presenters, and we will continue to pursue these issues.
Is there any other business that any of the other committee members would like to raise, or staff?
MS. HANRAHAN: I wanted to speak, and I think my colleague, Michael Genz, is also going to join me up here and give you a report about our Leadership and Diversity Advisory Committee.
So thank you, Chairman Hall and board members, and Ms. Barnett, for allowing me to do this.
Our Leadership and Diversity Advisory Committee met in Austin, in conjunction with the technology initiatives grant conference, which is an annual event we hold that I think Mike is going to talk a bit about, last week.
Our group, which was spawned by a series of conversations held around the country in 2001 on diversity and leadership in legal services, is a group of about a dozen individuals who come from the greater legal services community that also includes executive directors of state bar association IOLTA programs, our grantees, and non-LSC-funded legal services programs, and in fact includes the two Lillians who spoke before you this afternoon, Lillian Moy and Lillian Johnson.
The long-term goal of this committee and its work is to help state justice communities around the country embrace a broad definition of diversity as intrinsic to high-quality legal services and to help legal services programs become leaders in ensuring that meaningful access to justice is available to all poor people.
The meeting in Austin was a day-long retreat, and Helaine Barnett joined us for part of that. We were delighted to have her.
We brainstormed about ideas that we might pursue in the coming year, and our focus was twofold.
We looked back at what we had accomplished since 2001. Particular activities have included the development of our legal services programs board and management teams training module in diversity and leadership.
And the second part of that was the creation and training of a cadre of facilitators who would be able to work with programs and their boards in holding these conversations on diversity and leadership, which, as you may know or certainly can imagine, can sometimes be difficult, but are always very productive, rewarding, and important dialogues to entertain.
We also looked at some new projects we might start, including ways of helping to instill these values and the understanding of the centrality of diversity in serving our clients in a new generation of leaders, and how we can pass along the benefits of what we've learned and allow the next group of executive directors and managers at legal services programs to build on the achievements and successes that we've enjoyed, and also help prepare them to meet the significant challenges that exist when you try to strengthen diversity and achieve your goals for inclusiveness and a broad embrace of all the different kinds of people that we need to have on our staffs as well as the communities we need to be serving.
One of the things that came out of the retreat which I wanted to share with you was that many of the members, as they did their backward glance at what we had accomplished, noted that LSC's work in this area has been a catalyst for significant accomplishments and examinations around the country of diversity and what it's role is the provision of legal services, both on the state level in state justice communities, where we have seen states that have had statewide state justice community dialogues on diversity, trainings on diversity, and summits on diversity, and in individual programs, and in the in between areas of regional groups, of coming together of the local service providers to talk about these important issues.
Throughout the legal services community, it seems to have had the effect of just emphasizing the importance of diversity and bringing to people's attention the need to look at what they've been doing and to make sure that they are being as inclusive as possible.
One other person who joined our retreat for about a half hour was an attorney from the Department of Justice.
She was down in conjunction with the TIG conference, but she spent time with us because one of the Leadership and Diversity Advisory Committee's projects this past year has been through a subcommittee to examine the best ways or optimal ways of providing meaningful access to people with limited English proficiency or those who don't speak English at all.
The Department of Justice has also been working on this, and in fact, has produced guidance.
So Christine Stoneman of the attorney general's office came and spent some time with us, congratulated us and LSC on looking at these important issues and studying them, and offered to work with us in any way that she and DOJ can on making sure that our clients, all of them, all eligible clients, have meaningful access to justice.
MR. HALL: Thank you.
MR. GENZ: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee and members of the board, Austin was a busy place last week. Not only was that going on, but also the fourth annual technology initiative grant conference, or TIG conference to its friends, took place there.
We appreciate Chairman Strickland's participation in the conference, and his informative and inspiring words, and we also appreciate that President Barnett came down to Texas on what was her fourth day at LSC.
It meant an awful lot to the assembled group when she said that she came even though it was the first day and she was so new, because she didn't want to wait a year 'til the next one. That's truly an amazing reaction. Lots of other folks could easily wait.
The conference was attended by new grantees and some old grantees, a total of 120 altogether. It's designed as an introduction to the topics that would involve grants, pro se programs, the web site grants that we have, the intake systems, the infrastructure, and client access projects, to make sure that we're reaching the clients.
The conference is an opportunity each year to get to know those with relevant expertise and those who are doing the same sort of projects.
It's also an opportunity for the staff who are going to be working throughout the life of the project, two or three years, to get to know those people that they'll be working with.
And third, because evaluation is to important to us, it's an opportunity for us to introduce and explain our evaluation expectations.
The sort of center and particular emphasis of this conference this year was to bring in those in the nonprofit world who also work with our client community, not legal services people not involved in the law, but outside.
We saw this as an opportunity to set up collaboration at the national and local levels.
I'd like to briefly describe some of those projects of the people that we met with for the first time at this meeting.
The Internal Revenue Service partners with other organizations to spread the word about the earned income tax credit, to make sure that all of those who are eligible for this very good and helpful financial benefit get it. IRS works with several legal services programs, and would like to work with many more.
Next, the Community Technology Centers Network represents 1,000 centers nationwide where community people can come in and access the Internet. If we can work with this group, they can have access to our web sites and to the information resources that we're setting up in what's now 49 web sites and will soon be 56, one in each state and territory.
Third project, the Community Voice Mail Project provides participants, low-income people, with a personal phone number that they can give out and that they can call back to check on messages. This can be particularly helpful to many groups of our clients, such as folks who are homeless, who don't have telephones, or people who are seeking work and need a number to have folks call back to, and folks faced with domestic violence issues.
Next, the Beehive is a web site addressed entirely to our client community, and it covers almost all topics of interest to them except legal issues, so this is a great opportunity for us to partner with that group and make sure that they're the appropriate links.
Another group, N-Power, is a nonprofit that's dedicated to helping nonprofits do the most possible with their technology. They have wonderful instruments like Tech Atlas, which helps organizations develop technology plans and assess their needs and then implement their needs.
Finally, Judge Day, a Montana trial judge, discussed his partnership with the Montana Legal Services Association. By this setup, he allows, Judge Day allows MLSA attorneys who are several hundred miles away to participate in trials by video-conferencing and represent clients who they would otherwise be unable to represent except maybe a very few at a very high cost.
Judge Day concluded that video-conferencing allows him to make better informed and more just decisions, and also said it made him a better judge -- a very touching presentation.
In sum, we came back from the conference inspired to redouble our efforts to work with these other groups to expand access to assistance to our client community.
I want to thank Jennifer Bateman, Joyce Raby, and Glenn Rawden for their inspired and tireless work in conceptualizing, planning, and implementing this wonderful conference.
Thanks also to Randi Youells for her guidance and her unceasing support, not only of the conference, but of TIG in general.
In a related matter, we wish to thank Mr. McKay, who represented LSC the week before at a conference in Seattle on technology, values, and justice. We've heard lots of good things coming out of that conference, and look forward to following up on them.
I have some notes of some more detail than what I've presented, in case that's of interest. I'll pass those around and leave some of them on the table for folks.
MR. HALL: Okay.
MR. GENZ: The very last thing I want to say is that I was extremely interested in the presentations that came before and were here in force, and without specifically naming folks, I would like to ask the OPP staff to stand up so you can be recognized.
MR. GENZ: Thank you.
MR. HALL: Thank you for the update on both conferences. Sounded very, very exciting.
Any questions or comments?
MR. HALL: We're just about out of time, but our last agenda item is public comment. Is there any public comment at this time?
MR. HALL: Hearing or seeing none, I will consider a motion to adjourn the Provisions Committee.
M O T I O N
MR. SUBIA: So moved.
MR. HALL: Second?
MS. MERCADO: Second.
MR. HALL: The Committee on Provisions is adjourned.
Thank you all, and again, especially thanks to our presenters.
(Whereupon, at 4:38 p.m., the hearing was concluded.)